Are you taking your skin for granted?

Aside from the skin on your face, which you see in the mirror every day and likely keep looking young with various cleansers and creams, the rest of the skin on your body may suffer from neglect.

Yet taking care of all of your skin—beyond just your face—is about more than just vanity. It’s about maintaining good health.

One way to keep your skin healthy is with annual visits to a local dermatologist. During these visits, a dermatologist will check your skin for different types of skin cancer, including

  • actinic keratoses (a type of precancer)
  • basal cell carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • melanoma

Finding skin cancer sooner rather than later is important, especially with melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer. Even the less serious kinds of cancer may require removal and reconstructive surgery, depending on their location. That’s why the sooner they can be found and treated, the better. Regular skin checks also are important because skin cancer—including melanoma—is increasing.

Some people should get skin cancer checks done more frequently than just once a year. For instance, if you have psoriasis, you may be at a higher risk for non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. This means a dermatologist may request that you schedule more frequent skin checks. (These checks also are important to help distinguish between what is psoriasis versus what could be skin cancer.)

Also, if you’ve had skin cancer before, your dermatologist may have you return to the office every 6 months versus once a year for skin evaluations.

Dermatologists also recommend that you do a once-over check of your own skin every month to check for any bumps, moles, or discoloration. Let your dermatologist know of these changes. Of course, using sunscreen with an SPF Of 30 or higher, avoiding tanning beds, and wearing protective clothing in the sun are excellent ways to help keep your skin safe.

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