Category: Prevention

10 Year-Round Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

Skin cancer is an extremely common form of cancer, affecting millions of people worldwide each year. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans will contract some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. The good news is that many cases can be prevented through consistent habits.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, but it’s important to practice good prevention habits year-round. Here are 10 tips you can use every day to protect your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Apply Sunscreen Every Day

Applying sunscreen daily is an essential step in protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, even on cloudy days. It’s also the step people forget most often. Experts recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

It’s important to apply a liberal amount of sunscreen to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, and ears. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to often-overlooked areas, such as the lips, scalp, and the backs of your hands. Apply it to the tops of your feet if you’re going barefoot and the backs of your shoulders if you’re wearing a sleeveless top.

You should apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. If you plan to swim or get wet, you’ll need a water-resistant sunscreen.

It’s never too late to start using sunscreen regularly—it can prevent further damage and reduce your risk of cancer. Even if you forget every once in a while, making a regular habit of applying sunscreen can have a massive impact over time.

Continually Apply Sunscreen Throughout the Day

Despite popular opinion, sunscreen isn’t always a once-a-day routine. It should be reapplied at least every two hours, and immediately after swimming or sweating. UV radiation is strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM, so be extra vigilant about reapplication during these times of day.

If the idea of applying sunscreen more than once a day seems daunting, there are some things you can do to make it easier. For example, using a lip balm with SPF and a spray-on sunscreen for your scalp can improve coverage and speed up the application process.

Protect Your Skin with Clothing

One of your best friends in the fight for healthier skin is layers. Clothing can serve as a crucial barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays. Wearing things like long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats can provide additional protection from UV radiation.

Invest in sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them. Look into wearing clothing with a built-in ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating for added peace of mind, especially if you spend significant time outdoors.

Take Advantage of Shade

Seeking shade during peak sunlight hours can help reduce your exposure to harmful UV radiation. This can dramatically cut down on key risk factors.

When possible, choose a shady spot under a tree, umbrella, or other structure to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. While shade alone may not provide complete protection, it can help when used in combination with other measures like sunscreen and clothing.

Skip the Tanning Bed

As appealing as receiving an instant tan may be, data shows that tanning beds produce more negatives than positives. Tanning beds emit concentrated UV radiation, which can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer—including melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

To achieve a sun-kissed glow while reducing the risk associated with tanning beds and direct sun exposure, try using a self-tanning product or getting a spray tan. But be sure to continue applying sunscreen daily, as these alternatives don’t provide sun protection.

Perform Regular Skin Self-Exams

Performing regular skin self-exams can help you detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Once a month, examine your skin from head to toe. Look for any new or changing moles, spots, or growths. It’s a great idea to schedule an annual skin exam with a dermatologist, who can provide a more thorough evaluation and monitor any suspicious areas.

Research Risk Factors Based on Your Skin Type

Every person falls under a particular skin type, and there are risk factors associated with each one. Understanding your skin type and risk factors can help you take appropriate preventative measures.

For example, people with fair skin, light hair, and light eyes are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Genetic factors, such as a family history of skin cancer, and environmental factors, like excessive sun exposure, also play a role in determining your risk. It’s even more important to be proactive about sun protection if you fall into a high-risk category.

Practice A Healthy Diet & Lifestyle

A healthy diet and lifestyle can have a positive impact on your skin health and overall cancer risk. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help support your body’s natural defenses against skin cancer.

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of various types of cancer, including skin cancer. Even if you don’t maintain a perfect regimen, working towards a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can be powerful steps in preventing skin cancer.

Stay Up-to-Date with New Research

Awareness and education are essential aspects of the fight against skin cancer. Stay up-to-date on the latest research and recommendations to protect yourself and your loved ones. Many people fail to practice life-saving skin cancer prevention techniques because they simply don’t know any better. Together, we can create a healthier, more sun-savvy society.

Take Extra Precautions if You Have a History of Skin Cancer

If you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, it’s especially important to be proactive about prevention. Be diligent about applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade whenever possible. Schedule regular skin exams with a dermatologist to monitor any changes and detect potential problems early.

Taking these extra precautions can help ensure that you stay healthy and minimize your risk of developing skin cancer in the future.

Contact Franks Dermatology Today

By following these tips for year-round skin cancer prevention, you can take charge of your skin health and reduce your risk of this common—but often preventable—disease.

Remember that consistency is key: making small, daily changes to your routine can have a significant impact on your skin health and overall well-being. Be sure to stay vigilant, protect your skin, and enjoy the sunshine in a responsible manner.

If you are looking for a partner in your journey to healthier skin, contact Franks Dermatology in Little Rock. Call (501) 246-1042 to schedule an appointment with our team of experts. We will work with you to determine your risk factors and help plan a personalized skin cancer prevention strategy.

How Sunscreen Reduces Your Risk of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer affects people of all cultures and age groups. As one of the most common forms of cancer, estimates predict 1 in 5 Americans will develop some variation of skin cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the primary cause of skin cancer. This makes sun protection a major part of prevention.

You already know that sunscreen plays a vital role in shielding your skin from harmful UV radiation, but do you know how it affects your skin? In this article, we’ll explain how sunscreen works and explore its role in preventing various types of skin cancer.

How Ultraviolet Radiation Affects the Skin

There are three types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. UVA and UVB rays are the ones that impact our skin.

  • UVA rays, which account for 95% of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, can cause skin aging and DNA damage.
  • Although less abundant, UVB rays can be more potent and are responsible for sunburns and direct DNA damage.

Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to the development of skin cancer.

How Sunscreen Works to Protect the Skin

When it comes to safeguarding against UV radiation, sunscreen is a major line of defense. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how it works and underestimate just how effective it is when applied correctly.

Sunscreen delivers protection through various mechanisms, depending on the type of sunscreen used. Sunscreens are broken down into two types: chemical and physical. Each type offers distinct advantages and works in different ways to shield the skin from UV radiation.

Chemical Sunscreens

Also known as organic sunscreens, chemical sunscreens contain a combination of organic compounds that absorb UV rays. Compounds such as avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone work by absorbing the energy from UV radiation and converting it into heat, which is then released from the skin.

Chemical sunscreens deliver several benefits. For example, they tend to be more lightweight, less greasy, and easier to apply than physical sunscreens. They are better at blending into the skin without leaving a white cast.

However, some people may experience skin irritation or allergies to certain chemical sunscreen ingredients. There have also been some concerns raised about the environmental impact of specific compounds, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, on coral reefs.

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens use active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect the skin from UV radiation. These ingredients form a physical barrier on the skin’s surface, reflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin.

A strong advantage of physical sunscreens is that they tend to be less irritating, which makes them better suited for sensitive skin compared to chemical sunscreens. In addition, physical sunscreens are effective the moment they are applied. (Chemical sunscreens, in contrast, may take up to 15 minutes to take effect.)

There are a few drawbacks to physical sunscreens as well. Physical sunscreens tend to leave a white cast on the skin, making them more challenging to blend with makeup. They may also feel heavier or greasier compared to their chemical counterparts.

Both chemical and physical sunscreens can provide effective sun protection when used correctly. It’s essential to choose a product that suits your skin type, preferences, and lifestyle. This will make it more likely that you’ll use it consistently and keep your skin protected.

How Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer

Sun protection factor (SPF) measures the level of UVB protection in sunscreen. Experts recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of UVB rays. However, while SPF is an important measurement, SPF ratings do not account for UVA protection.

That’s where a broad-spectrum sunscreen comes to the rescue. Broad-spectrum sunscreens shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, ensuring that your skin is defended against the full range of harmful UV radiation.

Because of its role as a shield, sunscreen plays a vital role in reducing the risk of various skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Each type of skin cancer is linked to UV exposure, making sunscreen a critical preventative measure.

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is one of the most common forms of skin cancer. It is strongly linked to cumulative UV exposure over time, particularly from UVA radiation.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) arises from the uncontrolled growth of squamous cells in the skin. Constant exposure to UV radiation over time, especially UVB rays, is a major risk factor for developing SCC.
  • Melanoma is a slightly less common—but very aggressive—form of skin cancer that originates from melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin. Intense, intermittent exposure to UV radiation, especially UVB rays, is a major risk factor for developing melanoma. Studies have found that melanoma may be preventable by regular sunscreen use in adults.

Sunscreen is a major player in preventing different types of skin cancer. Incorporating an appropriate SPF sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection can drastically reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen

To choose the right sunscreen for your needs, consider factors such as your skin type, how much sun you take in each day, and the activities you plan to engage in.

When selecting a sunscreen, ensure it meets the following criteria:

  • Broad-spectrum protection: Look for sunscreens that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Appropriate SPF: Opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Use a higher SPF if you have fair skin or expect to spend lots of time in the sun.
  • Water resistance: If you plan to swim or engage in activities that cause sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen.

Other factors to consider include the sunscreen’s texture, its potential for skin irritation, and its environmental impact. It’s important to choose a product that you will use consistently.

How to Apply Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen correctly is crucial for optimal sun protection. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re using sunscreen effectively:

  • Apply a generous amount: It doesn’t help you to go light with sunscreen. Make sure all exposed skin areas are covered, including your ears, the tops of your feet, and the back of your neck.
  • Apply ahead of time: For chemical sunscreens, application 15 minutes before sun exposure is best. Physical sunscreens offer immediate protection, but it’s a good idea to wait a few minutes just to be sure.
  • Reapply regularly: If you’re outdoors getting wet or sweaty, reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours. Even water-resistant sunscreens need to be reapplied.

Speak to a Dermatologist to Find the Right Sunscreen for You

Sunscreen is a powerful tool for protecting your skin from harmful UV radiation. By understanding how sunscreen works, choosing the right product, and using it correctly, you can significantly lower your skin cancer risk.

If you need help choosing the right sunscreen for your needs, contact Franks Dermatology in Little Rock by calling (501) 246-1042. We will assess your skin type, determine your risk factors, and help you find the best sunscreen that fits your lifestyle so you can maintain healthy skin.

Signs of Skin Cancer: Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer that can be mistaken for other common skin conditions.

Understanding Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a malignant tumor arising from epidermal keratinocytes. Most of the time, SCC is caused by sun damage. SCC is more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma and has a higher potential to spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Risk Factors for Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The main risk factor for SCC is sun exposure, especially sunburns in childhood or adolescence. Another risk factor is exposure to certain chemicals and substances, such as tobacco smoke or arsenic. Having fair skin, a family history of skin cancer, or a weak immune system can also contribute to your overall risk of getting SCC.

By knowing the risk factors for SCC, you can take the steps needed to protect yourself. It’s vital to protect the skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing and using sunscreens. It’s also important to not use tanning beds, smoke, or be around toxic chemicals for long periods of time.

Signs & Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

There are a wide range of SCC symptoms. Here are the most common to keep an eye out for:

Rough, Scaly Red Patch

A persistent rough, scaly red patch is the most common sign of SCC. It may be mistaken for a non-cancerous skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. The patch may bleed easily and not heal.

Raised, Firm Red Bump

SCC can also appear as a raised, firm red bump that may be mistaken for a pimple or insect bite. The bump may be tender to the touch and may be larger than a pencil eraser.

Warty Lesion

SCC may present as a rough spot that looks like a wart or callus. The lesion may be rough and raised and have a scaly, crusted surface.

Open Sore That Doesn’t Heal

Keep an eye out for something that looks like an open sore that doesn’t heal and may bleed or ooze. The sore may be crusted or scaly and may be accompanied by itching or pain.

Flat, Scaly Brown Patch

SCC can appear as a flat, scaly, brown or flesh-colored patch that may be mistaken for age spots or freckles. The patch may be asymmetrical and have irregular borders.

It’s important to note that SCC can appear in different forms and may not always have the same symptoms, so it’s a good idea to consult a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Because of improvements in medicine and technology, there are now a number of ways to treat SCC. Some of these include:

  • Surgery, which is the most common treatment for SCC, involves removing the cancerous tissue. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the surgery can be done with either local or general anesthesia.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is usually used when the tumor is too large or too difficult to reach for surgery.
  • Topical medications such as 5-fluorouracil are used to slow the growth of cancer cells and reduce the size of the tumor. They can be put on the tumor directly, or they can be used along with surgery or radiation therapy.

Contact Franks Dermatology About Squamous Cell Carcinoma

At Franks Dermatology, our team of specialists is committed to providing client-centered care. We know the importance of early detection and treatment of SCC, and our team will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the best care possible.

When facing SCC, the key to a positive outcome is early detection and treatment. We encourage you to pay attention to the signs of SCC and schedule an appointment with us by calling (501) 246-1042 if you notice any suspicious changes on your skin.

Signs of Skin Cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma

The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma is often caused by prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. It can also occur in areas of the skin that were previously compromised by radiation therapy, burns, or inflammation.

Understanding Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a type of skin cancer that develops in the basal layer of the epidermis. Basal cells produce new skin cells and push older cells toward the surface of the skin. When these cells become abnormal, they can divide and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor.

Signs of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Early detection of BCC is crucial for successful treatment. To increase the odds of catching it early, regular self-assessments are key.

Here are some signs to be on the lookout for when checking your skin for BCC:

Open Sores

BCC can present as open sores that fail to heal even after several weeks. These sores may bleed or crust over and can be tender to the touch. They can appear as an ulceration or erosion on the skin and can be either round or irregular. The edges of these sores are usually not well-defined, and the center of the sore may have a raised, pearly border.

Raised Bumps

Raised bumps on the skin that are pearly or translucent can indicate BCC. These bumps may be itchy or tender and can have visible blood vessels on the surface. They are typically round or oval and range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. A color and/or texture change may accompany them—for example, they may appear reddish or scaly.

Scaly Patches

BCC can appear as scaly patches or plaques on the skin that are red, pink, or brown. These patches may be itchy or painful and may crust over or bleed. They often look like a patch of eczema, psoriasis, or other skin condition. These patches may be round or irregular.

Waxy Bumps

Bumps on the skin that are firm and shiny could indicate BCC. These bumps can be white, pink, or yellow. They often look like a wart or a skin tag. They may be round, oval, or irregular in shape, and they can range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters.

Flat Growths

Flat, flesh-colored growths on the skin that are scaly or crusty in appearance may be a sign of BCC. These growths may be raised or elevated and may be itchy or painful. They can present in a range of round, oval, or irregular shapes and can span from tiny to a few centimeters in diameter. They often look like a scar or a mole.

Persistent Itching

Another potential symptom of BCC is persistent or recurrent itching in the affected area. However, it’s important to note that this symptom is not unique to BCC—it could also be caused by other skin conditions.

Pain or Discomfort

Some BCCs can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area, especially around the face or near a joint. Other signs may accompany this symptom, such as itching or tenderness.

If you notice any of these signs on your skin, it’s important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Franks as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment of BCC can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and help prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

Treating Basal Cell Carcinoma

There are several treatment options available for BCC. Some of these include:

  • Surgical excision removes the cancerous tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue. It is usually done under local anesthesia and may require several stitches or a skin graft.
  • Cryotherapy freezes the cancerous tumor using liquid nitrogen, which is applied to the tumor with a spray gun. The liquid nitrogen causes the cells in the tumor to freeze and die. This procedure is commonly done in the office and takes only a few minutes. Cryotherapy is an effective treatment option for small, early-stage BCCs on the skin’s surface that can be easily seen and accessed.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage involves using a small electric needle to destroy the cancerous tumor and scraping it off the skin with a curette. This procedure is performed in the office and may require one to two treatments.
    • Typically used for small or low-risk BCCs, topical therapy involves applying a cream or gel to the tumor that works to slow down or stop the growth of the cancer cells.
  • Photodynamic therapy involves applying a special cream to the skin which is then activated by a light source. It is often used for BCCs that are located in hard-to-reach areas or that have recurred after previous treatment.

The best treatment option for you will depend on several factors, such as the size, location, and aggressiveness of the cancer, as well as your overall health and preferences. Dr. Franks will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Contact Franks Dermatology About Basal Cell Carcinoma

At Franks Dermatology, our team of specialists is committed to providing client-centered care. We understand the importance of early detection and treatment of BCC, and our team will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the best care possible.

We encourage you to pay attention to the signs of BCC and schedule an appointment with us by calling (501) 246-1042 if you notice any suspicious changes on your skin. With the right treatment plan, you can increase the chances of successful treatment and prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.

Signs of Skin Cancer: Melanoma

Melanoma is considered the most severe type of skin cancer. It’s important to recognize the signs of melanoma so you can alert your doctor about any suspicious areas on your skin.

Understanding Melanoma

Melanoma occurs when the cells responsible for producing the pigment of our skin turn cancerous. Although it affects people of any age, it has become much more common in young adults between the ages of 25 and 29. Melanoma is most commonly linked to UV-related damage, which means that excessive sun exposure and artificial tanning can increase the odds of it developing.

Treating Melanoma

The good news is that there are many advanced treatment options for melanoma. Treatment for melanoma is tailored to each patient’s unique situation and depends on many factors, including how early the cancer is detected. Depending on the severity of the melanoma, treatment could include a combination of surgery, radiation, medications, or chemotherapy.

While these options may feel daunting, the team at Franks Dermatology is dedicated to staying on the cutting edge of the most advanced methods available. Each of the treatments we offer to our patients has undergone extensive peer-reviewed clinical trials. We strive to provide the least invasive treatment with the most effectiveness that is appropriate for your situation.

Check Your Skin Each Month

We recommend performing self-examinations of your skin every month. Regular exams provide the highest odds of early detection of melanoma, which can expand your treatment options. These self-exams are simple and can be done in just a few minutes.

The first step in a self-exam is to examine every portion of your body, including your scalp. Becoming familiar with the variations of your skin helps you notice when something unusual appears. If a new growth looks different from the other moles on your body, for example, it is a strong candidate for further examination.

When your self-examination uncovers something new, it’s important to study it carefully. You can do this in the mirror or take a picture. Be sure to take note of unusual skin changes for your next appointment with us.

Signs of Melanoma

Melanoma often first appears as a new or changed mole. Here are some signs that may point to melanoma:


When looking at an unusual growth, does its shape seem irregular? If the mole is uneven or has a “mutated” appearance, it could be a sign that it is cancerous.

Irregular Borders

Melanomas often have borders that are not clearly defined. Pay special attention to growths with notched, irregular, or wavy edges.

Multiple Colors

Benign moles are typically a single shade of brown, whereas melanomas are often much darker than surrounding moles. A melanoma will present with multiple shades of brown, tan, or black. You may also notice shades of red, blue, or white as the spot continues to grow.


Pay special attention to moles that widen rapidly. A warning sign is a mole that exceeds a quarter of an inch in diameter. (That’s about the size of the eraser on a pencil.) If a mole has a large diameter and a dark color, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.

Signs of Evolving

Benign growths don’t experience much change from week to week. Melanomas, however, tend to evolve in size, volume, and shape at a seemingly continual rate. Warning signs may also include bleeding, crusting, or itching around the growth site.

Contact Franks Dermatology for a Skin Evaluation

If you notice these signs of melanoma on your body, you may feel confused or frightened. However, you don’t have to face the path ahead alone. Franks Dermatology provides a warm, welcoming, state-of-the-art environment where you can feel confident that you’re in expert hands.

We empower each of our patients with knowledge that gives them comfort and assurance as they undergo screening, diagnosis, and treatment. That’s why our team of specialists takes the time to carefully explain our approach and answer any questions that might arise. It’s part of our commitment to serving and informing our patients so that they’re well-equipped to make important decisions about their health.

If you’ve noticed any of the warning signs of melanoma listed above, contact us so we can assess the situation together. Call (501) 246-1042 to schedule an appointment at Franks Dermatology. Our Little Rock office is conveniently located in the Simmons Bank Plaza building at 4220 North Rodney Parham.