Though May is almost over and summer is fast approaching, it’s not too late to spread the word about melanoma, the importance of sun safety, and getting your skin checked regularly.
As dermatologists and experts in skin and sun safety, it’s important for us to be part of the conversation that happens every year as people start to make their summer plans. Taking care of their skin should be part of their plan, but most people won’t even start to think about this until they find themselves sitting on a beach sweating in the sun or standing in the aisle of the drug store wondering what kind of sunscreen to buy. For this reason, dermatologists need to find opportunities to talk about melanoma known in their communities.
Here are a few ideas of how you participate in Melanoma Awareness Month.
Approach your local radio or TV station with your ideas. News stations are always looking for content that will be valuable to their viewers or listeners. Bring your creative ideas for how to share about sun safety on TV or radio. This can help spread the word about your practice as well.
Write a post on Facebook and encourage readers to ask you their summer sun safety and skin health questions. I recently had a parent friend post to Facebook exasperatedly about whether or not to put sunscreen on her kids. She found internet articles that state sunscreens cause cancer and also some that argue her kids will develop cancer without sunscreen. These conversations are happening on Facebook, so be a part of starting the conversations that clarify the popular information out there and debunk the myths.
Participate in or host a free skin cancer screening event such as the SPOTme ® Skin cancer screening through American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)
Offer to present on sun safety for your local school, PTA, city park, or after-school program like the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club, especially those that have outdoor pools.
When you go into your community to share your expertise, don’t forget to cover these important points:
Melanoma can be an aggressive skin cancer and it is on the rise.
People who find melanoma at an early stage have a better prognosis. That’s why it’s important to get your skin checked!
The sun can’t be avoided, but there are ways to manage sun exposure. Go over basic sun safety tips.
Everyone can learn to do monthly self skin exams after a shower, enlisting the help of a family member or using a full-length and hand held mirror for their back. Here’s a link to a handy guide and body map produced by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Tanning booths significantly increase the risk of skin cancer and melanoma