Many of us hail from colder climates where the sun’s UV rays are not as strong or as dangerous as they are here in Ajijic, Lake Chapala.
Where we come from, Toronto, Canada, if we got two weeks of sun in the summer of any given year it was deemed a meteorological miracle and sun block was not always high on our list of vital personal care products.
When we holidayed in Mexico, of course, we loaded up on suitable sun screen products (30 SPF or higher) and diligently slathered ourselves from head to foot before we set a foot out the door.
We seem to be a little more lackadaisical about this necessary part of our daily rituals now that we live in, what is arguably, the best and sunniest climate in the world.
We think that if there is a cloud cover we are safe but this is actually not the case. You are still exposed to dangerous UV rays through the clouds and most fair skinned people will turn red in as little as 30 minutes in the sun even on a cloudy sky.
Also as we age it is vital to check yourself regularly for any changes in moles even if you have had them for years. You can go online to find out what you are looking for such as size, irregular edges, color and the different types of skin cancer from the most common Basal Cell (BCC) and Squamous Cell (SCC) carcinomas to the least common Malignant Melanoma which is the most aggressive and violent of cancer growths.
We all know the drill about using sun screen, not using tanning beds or lamps, staying out of the sun from 12:00 to 3:00 pm, wearing protective sunglasses, checking all medications to make sure they do not make you more sensitive to harmful UV rays but few of us are diligent in observing these critical safeguards.
We all know how essential it is to have a once a year complete physical examination as early detection saves lives and yearly screenings for skin cancer are just as important for the same reason. With timely and proper treatment, there is an excellent cure rate for both BCC and SCC and it is also critical to find and treat melanoma in its early stages.
You can also check yourself monthly for any changes in existing moles, lumps or bumps or new unidentified growths or skin injuries that do not heal.
We are very lucky here in Ajijic, Lake Chapala to have access to excellent dermatologists that are able to see you at once,.and to quickly take whatever action is necessary to make sure you are not at risk. Biopsy results come back in a few days.
One such dermatologist is Dr. Martha Ballesteros Franco at Maskaras Clinic (765-4805). Dr. Ballesteros comes out from Guadalajara to see patients at Maskaras Tuesdays and Thursdays. Foreign insurance plans are honored.
Also the Lake Chapala Society on Independencia in Ajijic do skin cancer testing the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month from10:00am -12:00 noon. Prior sign up is requited.
We are all very fortunate to live in a paradise and it is critical that we look after our skin in our most amazing climate and to make skin cancer screenings a regular part of our health regimes..