UV Safety Month: Prioritizing Prevention with Skin Exams

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services named July as Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month. It is critical to protect our skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, not just in the summer months, but all year long. Dr. Erika Music from Dermatology Consultants shares information about the importance of skin exams and how to help our patients – and ourselves – prevent UV damage.

Erika N. Music, M.DWhat are the primary benefits of a skin exam?
Skin exams allow us to look at the entire body for abnormal moles and skin cancer detection.  Patients often come in for an unrelated problem and we end up finding skin cancer during a full body skin exam.  Also, we can assess patients’ sun damage and treat precancerous areas before skin cancer develops.

Could you describe the process for a skin exam?
We give the patient a gown and inspect their skin head to toe. They can leave underwear on. We use a dermatoscope, which is a polarized, magnified light that allows us to see moles and other lesions up close. If any spot looks suspicious, we can biopsy it during the visit.

What advice do you have for providers trying to persuade patients to see a dermatologist?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. Most skin cancers have no symptoms and are treatable if caught early. However, skin cancer, especially melanoma, can be fatal if not diagnosed early.

What tips do you have for protecting skin throughout the year?
People should wear a facial moisturizer with SPF of at least 30 daily, no matter the season. During any period of extended sun exposure, you should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 50 on the exposed areas and reapply every 2 hours. I also recommend sun protective clothing made with SPF fabrics, as well has hats with a wide brim.

Members of the CHI Medical Plan, do not forget to take advantage of free health screenings from your 2019 benefits before September 30th. The plan includes the skin exam along with other preventative exams.

Earn $50 in wellness dollars per exam, by following these simple steps:
1. Schedule your exam
2. Print and fill out your Preventive Health Screening form
3. Submit a form for each exam – maximum of 4 per year
For more information, call 877.543.5768, option #3.