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Is Your Skin Sun Safe?

Published July 28, 2014

Did you know melanoma is the most common form of cancer found in young adults ages 25-29? It is easy to hear a statistic and think, “That won’t happen to me,” and that’s exactly what 20 year-old, Providence caregiver, Tiffany Gillespie thought until she was diagnosed with melanoma.

“I first noticed my mole changing when I was 16,” Tiffany said. “The dermatologist removed the mole, biopsied it and it came back with no abnormalities.” After a few years, Tiffany notice the mole start to change again and felt like she needed to get it checked a second time. When her doctor read her the results her heart sank. “It seemed so unreal that someone my age could get melanoma. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to do the things I had planned on doing in life.”

After another follow up procedure, it was decided that Tiffany would not need cancer treatment because it has all been removed. She now strives to educate others about how important it is to keep your skin healthy, “This experience has really opened my eyes to how delicate and fragile our bodies are. We need to take care of them the best we can.”

Dr. Alexander Jack, an Everett Clinic Dermatologist, provides a few ways for people to make sure their skin is kept safe.  “I encourage people to go outside and enjoy the outdoors; however, to do it in a way that is safe for your skin.” He recommends people use at least SPF 30 sunscreen, reapplied every two hours, when going outside. Whether it is sunny or cloudy, sunscreen helps protect the skin against harsh UV rays from the sun. If somebody wants to get tan, they should try using sunless tanning lotion or getting a spray tan as an alternative for tanning beds. Many studies have showed that tanning beds increase the risk for melanoma— the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Dr. Jack encourages anybody with a concerning skin lesion to be evaluated by a dermatologist. Some symptoms to look for include:

  • Pink or red colored bumps that last more than two weeks and seem to be growing
  • Pink or red bumps that are painful, bleed or develop a crusty surface
  • Any new dark spots on your skin
  • A mole that exhibits ABCDE’s (Asymmetry, irregular Border, multiple Colors, Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser, and Evolution, or change over time)
“Being sun safe not only will lower your risk for skin cancer, but it will also keep your skin looking young and healthy,” said Dr. Jack. “Sunscreen is the best anti-aging medicine!”