Balfour Dermatology is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Dr. Robert Beer, dermatologist at the Brentwood practice, treats individuals of all ages – babies, teens, adults and seniors – and one of his most important pieces of advice at any age is to wear sunscreen.
“All people are at risk for skin cancer these days,” Dr. Beer said. “The best sunscreen is one you will actually use.”
Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours, he said.
Protecting one’s skin is especially vital for seniors, because the sun is so much stronger today than it was when they were younger. Today’s seniors have approximately a 20% chance of getting skin cancer by age 60, while today’s newborns’ chances more than double to 50%.
Prevention is key when it comes to skin cancer. Dr. Beer advises annual checkups, especially if an individual has a history of skin cancer or precancerous lesions.
“Don’t pick at any skin lesions or scabs,” he said.
Patients can expect an easy, painless body exam when they come to Dr. Beer.
“We use special lights and a handheld microscope device,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not a big buzzing machine.”
Certain skin types – mainly those on the fairer side – and individuals who have a history of skin cancer in their families are more at risk and should be especially diligent about regular total body skin cancer checks.
“With melanoma, there is a definite hereditary factor,” Balfour Dermatology states on its website. “If you have had a parent or first degree sibling with melanoma, you and your immediate family should have a total body skin examination.”
For people who have moles and wonder when they should be concerned, they can follow the “ABCD” rule.
“A” stands for asymmetry: a mole that does not appear to be identical on both halves, up/down or side/side.
“B” is for borders: a mole that has borders that are hazy, red or a lighter color than the skin surrounding the mole, or a wavy/irregular border.
“C” is for color: a mole that has two or more colors. Many people think that bad moles are dark. Color change is the most important factor. Melanomas can be red, pink or colorless. A biopsy is the gold standard in deciding if your mole is bad.
“D” is for diameter: a mole with a diameter equal to or greater than the diameter of a pencil eraser.
“Any mole that has changed in appearance or has any symptoms of itching, pain, or bleeds should also be examined,” the practice’s website advises.
Regarding additional advice for senior-aged skin, “Use lots of skin moisturizer to keep skin hydrated, and drink plenty of water, water, water,” Dr. Beer said.
Balfour Dermatology is located at 2221 Balfour Rd., Suite A. For more information, visit www.skinquestion.com or call 925-240-9116.