The Importance of Skin Cancer Screening in Winter

skin cancer screening

It’s winter in the Sunshine State, and the balmy beach weather is well behind us now. The very last thing that may be on your mind is a skin cancer screening. However, even in the colder months, skin cancer screening is vitally important. When it gets cooler or cloudy outside, it is easy to forget that the sun is still damaging the skin. About 90% of UV radiation can penetrate through dark cloud cover. Sunscreen is equally as important in the fall and winter months as it is in the summer. Even when you are running errands or driving your car, remember that UV rays can even penetrate through windows.

Skin cancers do not usually suddenly manifest – they are often due to cumulative sun damage sustained to the skin. Therefore, although you may be protecting your skin now, exposure from previous sunshine may continue to put you at risk for skin cancer years later. We recommended self-screenings for skin cancer regularly (at least every month). If you have notice any changes in the size, shape or color of a mole, you should consult your dermatologist as soon as possible, as early detection is key. When caught early, most types of skin cancer can be treated more successfully.

Winter is the perfect time to establish good daily habits to protect the skin, as they will carry through to the summer months as well. Follow these helpful tips to protect your skin year-round.

  • Protect your skin, especially the neck and face throughout the year – even in winter. We recommend a daily moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher every day.
  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (as it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with at least SPF 30 – the higher, the better. We also recommend using a sunscreen with zinc for broader protection. Remember to reapply every two to three hours. Consider a powder sunscreen, that is easy to reapply over make-up.
  • People often forget to apply sunscreen to their lips and ears – it is important not to forget these areas. Try an SPF 30 lip balm, such as Elta MD.
  • Be aware of how much time you spend in the sun – try to avoid sun exposure during the midday hours, when the UV rays are the strongest.
  • Carry out self-screenings regularly to check for any new or changing moles, or blemishes that are not healing.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Remember to protect your skin daily, regardless of the weather, and schedule a skin cancer screening with dermatologist least once a year.