Most skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet light, either from exposure to the sun or tanning beds. Around 85% of melanoma cases are from UV damage. Since excessive sun exposure is the leading cause, skin cancer is most easily preventable by staying out of the sun. Some people can more easily avoid the sun than others, but all of us are susceptible to its potential harm. Being aware of which risk factors apply to each of us individually will help us know how to avoid and manage our time in the sun.
The reason UV rays are so harmful is that they damage your cell’s DNA. This can cause rapid cell growth, which we know as cancer, and can damage your skin tissue by creating lesions or forming tumors.
Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer that can affect your body. This form of cancer results from damaged melanocytes (cells that produce skin pigment). Melanoma can also be treated and cured if addressed immediately, but treatment becomes difficult if ignored for too long.
There are certain risk factors that increase the chance of skin cancer in individuals, although anyone is susceptible to damage from too much exposure. Fair skin and light-colored hair provide less protection from UV radiation than skin and hair with more pigment, but skin of any type can burn. Parts of the body exposed to sunlight are especially at risk, including your scalp.
If you’re in the sun a lot for work, sports, or other recreational activities, your chance of developing cancerous growth is higher, especially if you have frequent or severe sunburns. If you’ve had a previous skin cancer diagnosis, the likelihood that you’ll develop it again is relatively high. It’s crucial to have regular skin cancer screenings to monitor new or returning cases.
There are many benefits associated with exposure to sunlight, but too much of a good thing is often the source of problems! When you’re in the sun, especially in warmer months, it can be difficult to wear clothes that fully cover you due to the heat. Luckily, sunscreen acts as the shield between your skin and the sunlight when cloth can’t do it.
Staying hydrated is another way to avoid sun damage to your skin since hydrated skin is healthier and more able to defend itself from damage. The sun is most radiant between 10am and 2pm, so avoiding sun exposure midday is an easy way to prevent potent UV rays from harming your skin.
When you’re in the sun regularly, protecting your skin is a must. Your routine is your first step in good maintenance. It's is up to you to make sure your skin isn't left defenseless. During your routine, examine your skin and look for early signs of abnormal growth, including ongoing changes in symmetry, poorly defined borders, strange color, and large size, will help you know if you need to go in for an off-schedule mole evaluation.
You can't prevent and tackle skin issues on your own. Talk to the dermatologists at Southeast Dermatology Specialists. Schedule an appointment today to have a consultation with one of our dermatology experts, and be secure in your skin this summer!