COLUMBIA, S.C. — It is August, the peak of summer, outdoor activities, and high heat.

People are doing their best to stay cool by wearing loose fitted clothing and showing off more skin.  As a result, aside from getting sunburn, some people may get other rashes and they may have also noticed a few new freckles or moles.

Some people say that beauty is only skin deep and it’s what’s on the inside that counts. According to Jeremy R. Crisp, MD, family medicine doctor with Lexington Family Practice, both are equally important.  Skin is not only what people see, it is the largest organ of the body and  the first layer of defense against the outside world. Skin can also give essential clues to your overall health.  Therefore, it is important to learn to take good care of your skin.

He says in the summertime it is common to see rashes associated with the high temperatures, like heat rash, poison ivy and poison oak. People with other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also see flareups this time of year. But family medicine practices see a variety of skin problems whether it is from the day to day wear of the skin due to rashes or injuries, all the way up to conditions that may appear due to diseases such as skin cancer or   problems associated with other illnesses.  

“Everyone, no matter what skin type you have, is susceptible to sun damage to the skin.”

He further says, it is important to protect the skin during the summer, but some groups are particularly at a higher risk who may be more sun sensitive and prone to sun damage, sun burn and skin cancers later in life.   Certain medications can move people into this category.  People who are fare skinned should also take caution. However, he stresses everyone should protect themselves by wearing hats, sunscreen, and long sleeves.

Skin plays other roles, too. It can also alert you to a health problem. A red, itchy rash might signal allergies or infections.  A yellow tint might indicate liver disease. Therefore, it’s best not to take the mild appearance of a new skin condition lightly or neglect the skin when the temperatures cool off come the fall

“Skin is one of those things you have to take care of every single day.  You don’t want it to be overly dry or use harsh chemicals on. I think People who take time to take care of their skin by using good moisturizers and sunscreen, to not only prolong aging but also skin cancer.

Doctor Crisp recommends A yearly checkup as part of your health maintenance or physical Exam.    

Be on the lookout for unexpected changes to your skin and talk with your doctor if you have concerns.

“Anytime you have a new skin rash or a change in your skin that does not go away after a couple of days, certainly if it is associated with pain, I think it is important to see a physician.

The American Academy of Dermatology advises everyone to take responsibility in detecting skin abnormalities. The organization has developed a method to evaluate your skin for skin cancer and melanoma. Look for the "ABCDEs":

Asymmetry: One half of the spot is not shaped like the other half

Border irregularity: Poorly defined or "scalloped" border

Color: Shades of tan, brown, black and sometimes red, white and blue, vary across the spot

Diameter: The spot is larger than six millimeters, the diameter of a pencil eraser, however, skin cancers can also be smaller

Evolving: The mole looks different from the other moles on the body and is changing in size, shape or color.

Doctor Crisp also emphasizes the importance of a yearly skin checkup to minimize and prevent health risks.

Important Note: While we can provide you with expert information, we cannot offer a diagnosis or treatment recommendations. If you are concerned about any of the issues below (or a related issue), visit your health care provider. 

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