Today marks the start of skin cancer awareness month, an important time to spotlight a disease which one in five Americans will develop by the age of 70. This year, the focus is on UV rays. According to the American Cancer Society, UV rays — present both in sunlight and tanning beds — not only damage the skin itself (e.g. wrinkles), they actually damage skin cells’ DNA.
To help prevent this exposure, the American Academy of Dermatology has created an educational video titled Do You Use Protection? In it, they offer some best practices for avoiding UV rays, including seeking shade during peak sun hours, wearing protective clothing and using broad-spectrum 30+ SPF sunscreen.
While those are helpful tips for when you’re not at a doctor’s office, Sandra Lee, M.D., board-certified dermatologist famously known as “Dr. Pimple Popper” has some tips for when you are. Here are the three questions she says you should always ask your dermatologist.
1) Where did you get your training?
“We take many years of training to complete and really understand dermatology. I did four years of medical school after college I did four years of residency,” Lee tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I finished when I was 34 years old. I think especially on social media there’s a lot of misrepresentation out there. So I really think it’s important if someone is taking care of your skin and trying to diagnose skin cancer... it’s really important for you to know what sort of training they have.”
2) What is your speciality?
“I’m a surgeon and I’m also a cosmetic dermatologist but there are many different kinds,” Lee says. “I think it’s important to know what kind of doctor you’re seeing… [that way] you’re then going to be able to find a dermatologist who is going to be able to take really good care of you.”
3) When should I come back?
“Ask your dermatologist when you should come back. Follow up visits are really important especially if you’re having maintenance, full-body exams,” Lee advises. “It really depends on your family history, your skin type. Some people might come back every three months; some people might come back every one or two years. But it’s important to establish a relationship.”
For more information about Skin Cancer Awareness month go to the American Academy of Dermatology.
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