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Sun Smarts: How To Shield Your Skin from Harmful Rays and Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

With summer right around the corner and the days lasting longer, the importance of sun protection cannot be overstated. At best, the harmful sun rays burn the skin and lead to premature aging, and at worst, they can be deadly. 

Did you know skin cancer is the most common type of cancer? In its most dangerous form, melanoma, it accounts for a large majority of skin cancer deaths — luckily, however,  it’s also one of the most preventable cancers. Early detection is crucial and life-saving. 

The best way to prevent skin cancer is through regular daily sun protection.  Early detection is also important for improved outcomes through education, regular examination, and establishing good sun protection habits. 


Understanding the “ABCs” of melanoma and how to apply them to check yourself and your loved ones can help you recognize the signs of cancer early on.

A is for Asymmetry

When one half of the mole or lesion does not match the other in shape, it’s a red flag, as benign moles tend to be symmetrical.

B is for Border

Look for moles with uneven or scalloped borders. Non-cancerous moles typically have smoother, more even borders. Get checked if your lesions are anything other than smooth.

C is for Color

Variation in color from one part of the mole to another, with shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue, can be a warning sign. Normal moles are usually only one shade.

D is for Diameter

Melanomas are usually large. The rule of thumb is anything bigger than a pea needs to be checked out. However, they can start smaller, so monitor growth for early detection. 

E is for Evolving

Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or any new symptom, such as bleeding, itching, or crusting, points to danger.


Putting this into practice means conducting regular monthly self-examination and familiarizing yourself with the moles and marks on your body; this way you’re more likely to notice any changes or new growths. 

Still, including a professional in your examination is important too. Annual skin checks for high risk individuals by a dermatologist are crucial since professionals can spot atypical moles to test and detect early melanomas you might miss. 

Establishing Good Habits

While you only need to head to the dermatologist annually, it’s important to establish daily habits to protect yourself. This means finding and applying an SPF every single day to protect your skin from harmful UV rays that cause burns and skin cancer. 

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures a sunscreen’s ability to protect skin from UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and contribute to skin cancer. When it comes to choosing a daily SPF, there are two types: physical and chemical. 

Physical sunscreens (also known as mineral sunscreens) contain zinc oxide, which sits on top of the skin to deflect damaging UV rays away from the skin. They are effective as soon as applied, making them a convenient choice. Additionally, they’re less likely to irritate, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin.

Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, absorbs UV rays into the skin and then converts them into heat, which is released from the skin. These sunscreens tend to be easier to rub into your skin without leaving a white residue, but they also take up to 30 minutes to become effective. 


Protecting your skin today means a healthier tomorrow. Whether you want to have a skin lesion looked at or need help selecting the right sunscreen, Coastal Dermatology + Aesthetics is here to help you on your journey: (805) 544-5567.

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At this time, we are only accepting new patients by referral. Once you receive a referral from your PCP, please fill out the form below or give us a call at (805) 544-5567 to request your appointment. Additionally, all cosmetic consultations require a payment of $125 at the time of booking.