If you’re like most people, you keep your cell phone nearby at all times. Your phone is so much more than just a device to connect with people – it’s an indispensable source of information and entertainment.
You may not know, though, that your phone can also be a great tool to help you protect your skin’s health. Features like alarms and calendar reminders can assist with sun protection and monthly skin checks. And a phone camera is all you need to track your skin over time, enabling you to spot anything new, changing or unusual — potential skin cancer warning signs.
When caught and treated early, skin cancers are usually curable, so it makes sense to use your ever-present device to assist you. Here are seven ways you can dial up efforts to monitor your skin and keep it healthy:
- Schedule Reminders: Every phone has a calendar. Use yours to set a recurring reminder to perform monthly skin self-exams. While you’re at it, set a reminder to schedule your annual skin exam with your dermatologist. If your physician has recommended more frequent appointments, your phone can keep track of it all.
- Set Alarms: Your phone’s alarm clock isn’t just good for getting you out of bed. It can also be a great tool to remind you to reapply sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
- Fire Up Your Flashlight: Good lighting is essential to get a close look at your skin. The direct light from your phone’s flashlight can illuminate the skin. It’s especially helpful for hard-to-see areas beneath your hair or beard, the underarms or between your toes.
- Get Camera Ready: Any phone with a camera can help you with skin surveillance. During your monthly self-exams, take photos of your spots, freckles, moles or other lesions. If you have a lot, ask your dermatologist to identify spots you should track.
- Map and Monitor Monthly: During your monthly self-exam, compare photos from previous months and note all changes. If anything looks different or if you see something that wasn’t there last month, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist right away. Any note- keeping app on your phone can help you document findings to share with your doctor.
- There's an App for That: Search your favorite app store and you will find a number of mobile apps that have features such as magnifiers, mole trackers and automated reminders. They are designed to help make skin cancer early detection a more intuitive process.
- Spread the Word: Our phones keep us more connected than ever before. As you take time to protect your skin, encourage the people you know to do the same. Text your parents and siblings to remind them to do their skin checks. Or, share a social post about the importance of annual skin exams.
Life can get busy, and skin health can sometimes be an afterthought. By taking full advantage of the technology that’s always in your pocket, you can show your skin some much needed love.