Learn the ABCDE Rule to Recognize Melanoma Warning Signs

(SAVANNAH, GA) May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Dr. Corinne M. Howington, board-certified dermatologist at Low Country Dermatology, offers tips to prevent or minimize chances of getting skin cancer.

Skin cancer prevention is important because the American Academy of Dermatology discovered that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. Melanoma is the deadliest and most aggressive form of skin cancer.

“If Americans learn how to recognize the warning signs of skin cancer, then we can prevent one person from dying every hour from melanoma,” said Dr. Howington.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests learning the ABCDE rule to recognize the warning signs of melanoma.

The ABCDE rule says “A” stands for asymmetry. “If a mole does not look the same on both sides, then you need to see a Dermatologist immediately,” said Dr. Howington.

“B” stands for border irregularity. Border irregularity is when the edges of a mole are ragged, notched or blurred.

“C” stands for color. “If the color of a mole differs from one area to another, then you should get a skin cancer screening immediately,” said Dr. Howington.

“D” stands for diameter. If a mole is the size of a pencil eraser, it could be malignant.

“E” stands for evolving. A mole is considered evolving if it changes in size, shape or color.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if your skin is changing, itching or bleeding, you should seek medical advice from a Board certified dermatologist.

Skin cancer screenings and sitting in the shade between the hottest time of day, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., can prevent melanoma, a common type of skin cancer. You can also prevent skin cancer by wearing protective clothing, using “broad-spectrum” sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and exercising caution around water, sand and snow because these elements intensify the sun’s heat.

Sunscreen should be applied every two hours or after swimming or sweating. It is best to use one ounce of sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be applied any time you go outside if your skin is not covered by clothing.

To encourage early detection monthly self exams are recommended. You can check your skin for skin cancer by following these six simple steps:

Step 1: examine every part of your body in the mirror.

Step 2: record what each of your moles, freckles and age spots look like. Keep in mind that it is normal for moles to be black, red or blue.

Step 3: look at the back of your legs and feet and the spaces between your toes and soles.

Step 4: inspect the back of your neck and scalp with a mirror by parting and lifting your hair to feel for bumps.

Step 5: check your back and buttocks with a mirror to feel for bumps.

Step 6: check for changes every year by using the ABCDE model. If you notice any changes, then see a dermatologist immediately.

Early detection is key. Follow these steps to safely enjoy your time in the summer sun and minimize its dangers.

Low Country Dermatology specializes in the treatment of adult and pediatric diseases of the skin, hair and nails. Dr. Corinne Howington is a board certified dermatologist, with expertise in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Low Country Dermatology is located at 310 Eisenhower Dr. Suite 12A Savannah, GA 31406. For more information, call (912) 354-1018 or visit www.lcderm.com.

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