By Karen Kwan
Kudos on protecting yourself from UV rays by wearing sunscreen daily—but have you had your skin checked by a dermatologist lately, or ever? We touched base with Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto dermatologist and Medical Director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre to find out who needs to make an appointment, and how often.
• You should get your skin checked by a derm every two years if you have no history of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, says Dr. Barankin.
• Add this every-two-year skin check to your medical routine starting at age 18. But, if you have more than 100 moles, or many unusual looking moles, he recommends booking an appointment annually.
• However, if you have a personal or family history of melanoma—make sure you go annually. While you should definitely check your skin on your own, “a dermatologist is the true skin expert as far as judging the safety and danger of moles,” he says.
• Other factors that’ll have you seeing a derm for a check up more often? If you have fair skin, if you’ve used tanning beds or if you’ve had several sunburns under the age of 18. You’ll likely want to see your derm every one to two years, but this will be at the discretion of your dermatologist after weighing several factors, says Dr. Barankin.
Above all, make protecting your skin a priority. “Avoid tanning salons and sunburns, these are the two worst things you can do to your skin,” he says. Do what you can to avoid midday sun and sunscreen is great but make sure to also wear clothing (including hat, sunglasses) as protection.
And to make sure you’ve got on enough sunscreen, Dr. Barankin recommends applying twice the amount you might typically put on. “Most studies show people applying one-third to half the amount of sunscreen they need,” he says, adding that it’s essential to reapply it every two to three hours as well as the sunscreen breaks down over time.