A man with a worried expression holds a photo of a cancerous spot on the skin.

Bug Bite, Pimple, Rash, Mole, Skin Cancer?

It’s summer and I have been spending a lot of time outside. No, I am not laying out trying to get a tan. I am not running around in a bathing suit and not much else. I am out photographing my little corner of the world. Whether it be landscapes, wildlife, cityscapes, or astral, you can often find me with camera and lens in hand adjusting my settings and looking for that award-winning image to capture within frame.

Checking my skin every day

At the end of every day, I have a look-see at my face. Most of my body is covered all day, either with SPF50 clothing or sunscreen, which makes me feel safe. It’s my face that I am most concerned about these days. I scour every square inch of it and without fail I find things that give me pause. I find spots and I don’t know what they are. All of a sudden my anxiety level rises along with my blood pressure.

Is this spot a mosquito, gnat, or tick bite?

We have a ton of those annoying little creatures roaming around the rivers, lakes, and ponds of Long Island this time of the year. Is it an ingrown hair or pimple? Am I getting acne as I approach 60 years old? What about poison ivy? Did I happen upon that scary plant? Did I just have an allergic reaction to a new lotion? Is it a previously unnoticed mole or odd skin tag?

Or is it skin cancer?

As part of the moderating team, I have seen many photographs and read many posts about people who thought they had a pimple or bug bite, which turned out to be skin cancer. It has had two effects on me, one positive and one negative. It has made me more aware of potential risks leading to regular visits to the dermatologist, which is a good thing. It has also filled me with stress and anxiety, which stinks.

This isn't helping my stress levels

I am like most people, I think. I have the usual stressors that permeate life: relationships, finances, work, general health concerns, unresolved past hurts, the unknown future; all can keep me up at night grinding my poor teeth. Now, let’s add scouring every pore of my skin in the never ending search for lesions into the mix and it can mess with one’s mind.

What to do, what to do...

My poor family! Happy guy enters the bathroom, looks at the mirror, grumpy guy exits the bathroom. In other words, my moods can change based on my daily checkup. So, what to do?

Here is what I propose:

  • I am going to continue checking my face, but I don’t need to do it every day. I will set a regular time and check it often when I am rested, hydrated, and not hungry.
  • I will have someone else help me. Having a second, informed opinion centers me and helps me keep track of things. Some skin issues are temporary and go away. Some are chronic and need further monitoring and possibly medical attention.
  • I will continue to make appointments with my dermatologist when I (we) find something suspicious.
  • I will remember that I have a good life, better than 99% of the people in the world, and I will count my blessings every day.
  • I will be thankful.

What about you? How do my thoughts, feelings and actions resonate with you? Do you ever experience them?

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