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The Gift of Skin IQ

When you’re a patient at Greco Dermatology, we educate you on the best ways to protect yourself from skin cancer. You will learn daily skin care regimens, methods to avoid harmful UV rays, tips on sunscreen application, oral therapies to lessen the risk of skin cancer, self-skin exams, and much more.

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Just the Tip of the Iceberg

This page includes just the beginning of Skin IQ. We encourage you to do everything possible to learn protection methods and then implement them into your life. When you work with our team, you will learn even more. 

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Why Does Skin Cancer Develop?

Ultraviolet radiation — both naturally from the sun and artificially through tanning beds — is, without a doubt, the primary culprit of skin cancer. The World Health Organization and Department of Health and Human Services have declared UV light a known carcinogen.

UV radiation in the form of UVA and UVB is responsible for all aspects of sun damage on everyone’s skin. UV radiation is very sneaky. It can affect you even through clouds and windows. It can get you by reflecting off of snow, water, and sand. It builds and builds over time — even from short everyday activities like walking to your car and checking the mail. 

There is no safe way to tan. Any type of tanning represents the skin’s response to sun damage and places you at risk for skin cancer and a variety of other growths. As the sun damage accumulates, so does the risk of developing skin cancer or pre-cancerous growths. UV damage manifests itself in a multitude of ways. This can include various types of cancerous growths, pre-cancerous lesions, sunburn, premature aging, dryness, wrinkles and fine lines, sunspots, redness, broken blood vessels, and sagging skin — just to name a few. If left untreated, pre-cancerous lesions may transform into skin cancers which will continue to enlarge and grow. Early intervention is crucial as most skin cancers. If caught early, most cancers can be successfully treated with minimal scarring.

Warning Signs for Skin Cancer 

Everyone, regardless of their skin type, are at risk for developing skin cancer — and those with a history of skin cancer are at risk for developing more. When looking at your skin, be aware of the following warning signs that could be an indication a growth may be cancerous:

  • A new growth on an adult that does not disappear within 4-6 weeks
  • A skin lesion that grows larger and turns pearly, translucent, brown, black, or multi-colored
  • A mole, birthmark, or beauty mark that grows larger, changes color, texture, or shape
  • An open sore or wound that doesn’t heal for more than four weeks, or heals and then reopens or recurs 
  • A skin spot or growth that scales, scabs, oozes, erodes, or bleeds for several weeks
  • A growth with changes in sensation such as itching, burning, pain, or tenderness
  • Any worrisome skin lesion
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Risk Factors

  • Fair skin
  • Light hair and light eyes
  • The tendency to burn and freckle
  • History of radiation exposure
  • Chronic immunosuppression in organ transplant recipients
  • Disease states such as leukemia and lymphoma
  • Tanning beds
  • Sunburns and childhood history of sunburns
  • Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB rays
  • Genetics
  • Atypical moles
  • Organ transplantation


  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • More than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
  • More than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in America. 
  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
  • When melanoma is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 99%.

Via https://www.skincancer.org/ 

Preventative Strategies

Preventative strategies require an aggressive and comprehensive approach to protecting yourself from UV radiation. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM-4 PM
  • Don’t get sunburned
  • Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Apply one ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Re-apply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating
  • Keep newborns out of the sun and use sunscreen on babies over the age of six months
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month
  • See a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam

Sun Protection Strategies


When sunscreen is used properly, it has been shown to lower your chance of developing skin cancer and skin pre-cancers. In fact, using sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 each day can decrease the chance of getting squamous cell carcinoma by about 40% and melanoma by 50%.

Not every sunscreen is made alike. You will need to consider your skin type (dry, oily, acne-prone, sensitive, etc.), your family history, medications, and disorders to select the ideal level of protection. 

Re-apply sunscreen every two hours, and re-apply immediately after swimming or sweating. If a sunscreen says that it is “water-resistant”, you still need to re-apply after being in the water for 40 minutes.

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Clothing that is a bright or dark color — as well as clothing made of thicker material such as wool, denim, or canvas — will protect you from UV rays more effectively than light colors and thin material. If you hold a piece of clothing up to the light and you can see through it, that clothing will not protect you. Furthermore, when clothing becomes wet or stretched, it becomes more transparent and therefore loses a portion of its protective ability. 

Hats and Glasses

A massive 90% of all skin cancers are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which develop on the head and neck. Hats and sunglasses significantly help safeguard this area. Hats should be tightly woven, not allowing any UV rays to get in. They should also have a brim of at least three inches and should protect the tops of the ears and the back of the neck.

Why Choose Greco Dermatology?

Joseph F. Greco, M.D. is a Mohs surgeon and skin cancer specialist who is double board-certified by The American Board of Dermatology in Dermatology and Micrographic Dermatologic Surgery. He completed his fellowship training in Mohs micrographic surgery, cutaneous oncology, and laser surgery and spent 15 years at the University of California, Los Angeles where he was the Director of UCLA Santa Monica Dermatology. He was also a Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine at The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is a third-generation medical provider with a unique and extensive work experience. Besides his outstanding credentials, he is known and loved by patients for his excellent bedside manner and warmth.

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