The #1 Reason To Check Your Back This Summer

Family at the beachWho’s got your back? That’s one of the most important questions you can ask this summer and the title of a recent survey on sunscreen habits from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Results of  AAD’s survey show that the majority of people don’t regularly apply sunscreen to their backs or check the skin on their backs for signs of skin cancer.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and Blacks have the highest mortality rate from melanoma. So, how do we protect ourselves? Lauren Ploch, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, recently spoke with BlackDoctor.org about the survey, skin cancer detection and the ABCDEs of inspecting the skin for melanoma.

 

BDO: What does the survey tell us about our skin protection habits, in general?

Dr. Ploch: The survey told us that thirty-seven percent of us rarely or never apply sunscreen to our backs when they’re exposed to the sun, and that forty-three percent of us rarely or never ask someone to help us apply sunscreen to our back before we go out in the sun. It also told us that fourteen percent of us, if no one was around to help us apply sunscreen, fourteen percent of us wouldn’t take any action, such as staying inside, staying in the shade, or protecting ourselves with sun-protective clothing when going out in the sun.

BDO: So now, with all the places on our bodies, of course we need sunscreen all over head to toe, but why is the back so important?

Dr. Ploch: The back is the most common location of melanoma and one of the most common locations of all types of skin cancers. And, it’s an area that we often forget about because it’s not something that we see on a regular basis. So, it’s really important to protect ourselves there. It’s also important to look at our backs or have someone help us look at our backs on a regular basis to see if there’s anything that’s kind of funny looking or anything that’s changing over time.