Thanks to internet resources and a greater awareness of the risks of sun exposure, people have become much more proactive about protecting their skin. However, while patients remember to apply sunscreen to their face, chest and arms, they forget that skin cancer can affect the entire body. Here are the top 5 body parts that patients commonly forget, and unfortunately, where I have to cut out skin cancers:
- Tops of Ears - Just like the tops of shoulders, this area literally bakes under the sun. Be sure to apply a liberal coat of sunscreen to the tops of your ears before going outdoors.
- Hair Parts & Bald Spots - Bald spots on the head seem self-explanatory, but people don’t think about applying sunscreen to the tops of their head. Also, patients who have thick, dark hair think they are protected from sun damage, but they forget that the scalp where their hair is parted is vulnerable and needs to be protected. Gel sunscreens absorb much easier than creams and can prevent greasiness in the hairline, but your best bet is to always wear a hat with tightly woven fabric and preferably a wide brim.
- Lips - Most people nowadays are aware that sun damage is the #1 cause of premature skin aging, and diligently apply sunscreen to their face and decollete. But they forget that lips are made of skin too, specifically, a very thin, delicate layer of mucous membrane. It always surprises me when I see patients applying an SPF 100 to their face and body, then put on a lipstick or lipgloss loaded with petroleum jelly or castor oil to their lips! Lips are very prone to sun damage, and skin cancer simply because women use lip products that do not have an SPF and contain ingredients that actually absorb and amplify UV radiation. Never go outdoors without applying a lip product with sun protection.
- Tops of Hands & Feet - Just like the tops of shoulders and ears, the tops of hands and feet are extremely vulnerable to sun damage. Make sure to apply ample amounts to your feet before