“Monitor your moles and look for changes every few months. If they are changing or growing compared to others, or are itchy—or if they just make you uncomfortable—get them looked at.”
Rehana Ahmed’s skin is a glowing testament to what a good dermatologist can do for one’s skin. What’s more, Ahmed is a dermatologist herself. And based on her appearance, you’d never know she’s endured sleep deprivation (attending Johns Hopkins and the U of M medical school), or that she juggles her time as an assistant professor at the U of M and a position at Uptown Dermatology. Here is her take on preventing skin cancer.
We’re looking at a divergent theory of melanoma. Two types of people get melanoma: the chronically sun exposed, such as people who work outside, and people who have had intermittent exposure—think spring break. There’s a different biology behind the melanomas.
Skin is the one organ system we can see. Cancer testing is minimally invasive and easy to do. Melanoma is on the rise. A study published in April from the Mayo Clinic reported that between 1970 and 2009, there was an eightfold increase in women and fourfold increase in young men.
Someone should be looking at your skin every year. Primary docs will take a look, but increasingly they are listening to your heart through your clothes and don’t look at your skin.
Tanning beds are associated with melanoma. Even very minimal tanning exposure is associated with increased risk.
Everybody is susceptible to skin cancer. But you’re more susceptible if you have a strong family history or certain characteristics, like fair skin, red hair, light eyes, more moles, or if you burn easily. Darker pigmented skin protects more from UVB rays, but not UVA rays.
Sunblock is the easiest thing ever. Get a facial moisturizer with sunblock in it. Remember, you even get light through the car window. Most people have more freckles on their left side. Apply your sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going out. Be generous.
Uptown Dermatology, 1221 W. Lake St., Ste. 208, Mpls., 612-455-3200, uptown-dermatology.com