Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Do You Do It?

I recently asked the question "How often do you have your skin checked by a dermatologist?" in the form of a poll, offering four answers: every six months, once a year, every few years, and never.  I was surprised by the numbers....in a good way, and in a bad way.  Sounds strange?  Well, let's have a look at the distribution of my extremely unofficial "data".  

Looking at the graph, you can see the good news clearly- lots of folks are visiting their dermatologist on a regular basis!  The bad news is in the red- 31% of those who participated, have NEVER had their skin checked by a professional.  This percentage shows the need for more education about the importance of putting the dermatologist on your list of annual people to visit.  

The largest skin screening study ever done, provides compelling information.  SCREEN (Skin Cancer Research to Provide Evidence foe Effectiveness of Screening) published a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, with 360,288 subjects.  The study concluded that regular total body skin exams by doctors can lower melanoma deaths by more than 50 percent.  

So, why not do it?  There seems to be a few common reasons why people do not get to the dermatologist.  First, FEAR.  If we fear something, we tend to avoid it.  I know all about this.  I did it with my teeth.  I avoided the dentist for 10 years....and sure enough, when I finally did return, I had 10 cavities.  Thus, a perfect example of how avoidance is self-sabotaging.  There is a sense of immediate relief by avoiding something we fear, but that relief is fleeting.  Facing the fear is the only way to lower our fear.  And the best way to do this, is practice, practice, practice!  Now, when I visit my dentist I am sure to book my next appointment before walking out the door.  Otherwise, I know the phone will get too heavy to pick up to make the appointment.  The more I do it, the easier it gets.  

The second common reason for not going to the dermatologist is TIME.  "I don't have time. There is nothing wrong."  I love this Spanish Proverb to address this: "A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools."  It is hard to make time for things that don't feel urgent.  We are busy people, living busy lives.  But the truth is, if you go for a skin check on a regular basis, a full-body skin check may only take about 15 minutes.  That is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things.  

Lastly, MONEY....I know, these visits add up, and many don't have health insurance to cover such visits.  Two things here- 1) If you do have health insurance, try this on for size...If you think the cost of an annual dermatology visit is expensive, the cost of cancer, surgeries, etc. is WAY more expensive!  2) If you do not have health insurance, there are FREE skin cancer screenings being done all over.   You just need to Google search "free skin cancer screening" and add your city.  Or visit The Skin Cancer Foundation's website for information on locations and dates of their screenings.  You can find that info here- http://www.skincancer.org/events/tour

In closing, the best way to protect the skin you are in and to stay safe, is to practice safe sun (avoid peek hours, use SFP 30+ mineral based broad spectrum sunscreen, wear hats and sun glasses, seek shade, wear UPF clothing) and have your skin check regularly by a dermatologist.  DO IT!  

"My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best as this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."
~Oprah Winfrey

This is scarier.
This takes more time.
This is more expensive.

This is scarier.
This takes more time.
This is more expensive.

Invest in yourself!  YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!!

1 comment:

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