What Do You Know About Sun Safety and Skin Cancer?

Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
 

The last few lazy days of summer are here, and as we enjoy the warm weather, it's also important to stay sun safe. Do you know these important sun safety facts?

Most Sun Damage is Done When We’re Kids, Right?
Not necessarily. We actually get less than 25 percent of our total sun exposure by age 18, according to new research. Each 20-year period after that averages another 25 percent --so adopting new, healthy skin habits can save your life.

Isn’t Indoor Tanning Safer Than Baking in the Sun?
No!  That misconception lures more than a million people -- 71 percent of them are women under 30 -- to tanning salons every day. High-pressure bulbs in tanning beds emit as much as 12 times the UVA that the sun does, increasing your risk of melanoma by 75 percent if you started indoor tanning before age 35. The only safe tan comes from a bottle.*

Do I Really Need to Wear Sunscreen 365 Days a Year? 
Yes. Slather it on every inch of exposed skin every single day. For the record, SPF foundation does not count (you do not use enough of it to be protected), so layer it on top of sunscreen. 

Heading to the beach? Apply SPF from head to toe before suiting up (swimsuits can shift, revealing unprotected skin). Then reapply every 80 minutes or immediately after swimming. The sun isn’t shining? Cloudy, rainy and snowy days can have up to 80 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays passing through the clouds.

What Should I Look for in Sunscreen?
First, scan the label for the words “broad-spectrum” and check the ingredient list for sun blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide -- all indications that your formula shields you from UVA and UVB, the two types of skin cancer-causing rays. The SPF level (shoot for at least 30) measures a product’s ability to protect only against UVB, which leads to burns. But you need a sunscreen that also filters UVA rays which penetrate deeper into the skin, resulting in wrinkles and age spots. When UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin, they alter the DNA that controls cell growth and division. Too much damage can cause cancer. UVA rays also weaken the elastic fibers and harm collagen that keeps skin smooth and youthful. It’s UVA that causes dark-pigmented age spots.

I Have a Lot of Moles. Am I More at Risk for Skin Cancer? 
Normal moles (small brown spots or growths) are generally benign, but having more than 50 does increase your chances for skin cancer too. Every month, look for new spots and moles that have changed in shape, size or color. Go into a well-lit area like a bathroom and give the front of your body a thorough once-over. Feel your skin as you examine it: Suspicious spots can be flesh toned but scaly. Next, use a full-length mirror to scan your back side. Spend extra time on your scalp (part your hair to get a view), neck and shoulders, and don’t forget your underarms, palms and soles and the insides of your fingers and toes. Finally, use a hand mirror to check the hard-to-see areas. In rare cases, melanoma can be genetic and unrelated to UV exposure.

How Will I Know if a Mole is Suspicious?  
Refer to the ABCDE signs of skin cancer and if you notice any of these in regards to your moles, schedule an exam if anything looks suspicious. 

A =   Asymmetrical Shape
B  =  Border - Jagged Edges
C  = Color - Two Or More Shades
D  =  Diameter - Larger Than 
         6 mm
E  =   Evolving - Any Mole That 
         Changes

I’ve Never Had a Skin Check; What Should I Expect? 
Your appointment with your Radiant Complexions Dermatology expert is quick and easy.  If he or she sees something suspicious he will biopsy it, removing all or part of the spot, and send it to a lab for analysis.

 

Consistency is the key to staying healthy, so check your own skin each month. Contact us today to schedule your annual skin exam and to learn more about staying sun safe! 

 

 

Common Types of Skin Lesions

Nevi  
Normal moles that can show up anytime throughout your life. They have a healthy round shape, as well as an even, not jagged border and are tan, brown or flesh-toned.

Dysplastic Nevi  
Melanoma lookalikes that can up your risk for disease, and possibly even morph into it. Your Radiant Complexions Dermatology provider will decide if it’s best to keep a close eye on the mole for changes or biopsy it.

Actinic Keratosis 
Precancers that can lead to squamous cell carcinomas. It usually appears on sun-exposed areas (scalp, ears) and can be treated with liquid nitrogen or a prescription cream.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)  
The most common form of skin cancer. Usually pearlescent and reddish pink in color (like a pimple), it most often occurs on your face, shoulders or scalp. It’s not likely to spread and it’s almost always completely curable if detected and removed early.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) 
The second most common form of skin cancer. Like BCC, it usually appears on UV-drenched areas like your face, shoulders or scalp. If removed early, SCC is nearly 100 percent curable, if left untreated it can destroy surrounding tissue. 

Melanoma 
Appears suddenly or develop in an existing mole. It’s usually asymmetrical and dark brown or black. Look for it on your legs, a common location and on your head, where the disease is deadliest. Melanoma is the most fatal form of skin cancer but has a 99 percent survival rate if detected before the tumor spreads beneath the skin. 

 

 

When Applying Your Sunscreen,
Don't Forget These Key Spots! 

Scalp / Hairline  
Melanomas found here are deadlier than anywhere else on the body. Doctors think it’s because they’re detected later since hair can hide them.

Nose         
It’s the leading area for facial skin cancers.

Lower Lip 
Unlike the upper lip, it’s not shaded from UV rays by the nose.

Left Side of the Face 
UV rays can penetrate glass, so driving a car puts this half in greater danger. If you’re more likely to be a passenger, the reverse is true. 

Ears 
These are hot spots for actinic keratoses, precancers that often turn into SCCs. 

Legs 
Melanomas are more common here in women than men, probably because women want suntanned legs and are more likely to skimp -- or skip sunscreen. 

Feet 
Summer sandals and flip-flops leave them more exposed.