Spring is here, and with it comes longer days and more sunshine. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new age of social distancing and staying at home. While your daily routine might be vastly different this spring, the potential for exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation remains the same. How are you protecting yourself?
Even if you’re spending more time indoors, UVA rays can penetrate window glass, meaning you can still be at risk of exposure while inside. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises everyone to remain vigilant in protecting your skin and checking your body for suspicious lesions.
Q: I’m scared to go out and see a dermatologist during COVID-19. What should I do?
A: “While it’s never a good idea to postpone your skin exam, this is a valid excuse for some people right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down, and it has been very important for everyone possible to comply with social isolation to help save lives. Some dermatologists have temporarily closed their practices. Others have stayed open for necessary treatments and surgeries. Many patients have canceled routine appointments like skin exams.
"However, some skin cancers can be life-threatening, and putting off seeing a dermatologist could put your life at risk. This is where telemedicine and photographs can help. If you have a lesion that has gotten much larger or darker in a very short time, call your dermatologist’s office, express your concerns and see what options are available.”—Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation
Where to Find Help
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, we’ve heard from skin cancer patients and caregivers who are concerned because appointments or surgeries have been canceled. Find out what this means and what you can do.
If your dermatologist is not currently seeing patients in the office or is extra busy due to COVID-19, see if they offer any teledermatology options. Teledermatology is a rapidly developing subspecialty using the latest technology to allow patients better access to high-quality dermatologic care without traveling to the clinic. There are some medical groups that are providing teledermatology services for patients around the country during this health crisis. Get more information.
Have You Checked Your Skin Lately?
While many of us are sheltering in place, it’s a good time to revisit skin cancer warning signs and perform at-home skin checks. Look for anything new, changing or unusual on your skin, and reach out to a dermatologist if you see something concerning. You can find more information about skin cancer warning signs and how to perform a self-exam at TheBigSee.org.
Early Detection: There’s an App for That!
Mobile apps like Miiskin can be a helpful tool for performing monthly self-exams, and can help you monitor anything on your skin that would require professional attention. The Skin Cancer Foundation appreciates Miiskin’s efforts to make skin cancer early detection a more intuitive process. We have partnered with Miiskin to help save and improve more lives. Find out more.
“Both my husband and I have had several skin cancers removed. We will be missing our regular screening which our dermatologist has postponed to June (for now). We dread hearing the news of abnormalities but it is stressful having to wait to know for sure whether or not the spots he wanted to remove on both of us are cancerous.”
“Melanoma prepared me to be calm in these times. We face uncertainty every day. One thing I learned from being a melanoma survivor is that you have to think you are going to win. Because you can’t win if you already think you are going to lose. Jobs and money mean nothing without your health. And the jobs will come back and we will take it day by day until then -- just like we do with cancer.”
“Was about one-third complete with my superficial radiation treatments on my leg when this Coronavirus went out of control. I have other medical issues along with a suppressed immune system, so I have delayed them until we get back to somewhat of a normal time again.”
“Rescheduling my appointment for a skin check multiple times. Finally, I was able to get seen virtually though a telemedicine portal. Uploaded photos of a suspected BCC recurrence and my derm and I spoke about next steps and scheduling a biopsy in about 6 weeks. Put my mind at ease.”
“Having to wait to remove a BCC, and electing to come off of Erivedge, for a while since my immune system is already gone.”
“Having my Mohs surgery canceled back in early March. It was necessary since we are a hot spot, still worries me to delay this though. It’s super close to my eye on my nose and I’ve already lost half my face on the same side and that was also super close to my eye. My concern isn’t about it metastasizing, it’s about it spreading into my eye. I’m worried how long it will be before I can have it done.”
“My dermatologist is worried about four areas, but biopsies aren’t deemed essential right now.”