St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to remind everyone with lighter-toned skin to take extra precautions in the sun to protect yourself from skin cancer. Most skin cancers develop on areas of the skin that get years of sun exposure, like the face, neck, ears, forearms, hands, and trunk. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common, but melanomas are the deadliest. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common skin cancers and what to look for.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) looks like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump, or pinkish patch of skin. BCC frequently develops in people who have light skin, but it can occur in people with dark skin. With early treatment, this type of cancer can be cured. Left untreated, BCC can cause bleeding and severe damage, which can be disfiguring.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) can look like a red scaly patch, raised, firm bump, or a sore that heals and re-opens. People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC, but it can develop in dark-skinned people, especially those who have scarring.
With early detection and proper treatment, SCC also has a high cure rate. Left untreated, SCC can also be disfiguring. In rare cases, untreated SCC can spread to other areas of the body and can be deadly.
Melanoma may develop in a mole or it can appear on the skin as a new, dark spot. Sometimes melanoma contains shades of red, blue, or white. When found early, melanoma often can be cured. Left untreated, melanoma can spread to other areas of the body and be deadly. In fact, one person dies of melanoma every hour.
Sun Protection Tips
Sun protection helps prevent skin damage and wrinkles, and reduces the risk of developing skin cancer. Newer broad-spectrum sunscreens contain products to block both UVA and UVB rays. To be effective, sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that you seek shade when possible. Avoid sunbathing, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing. A typical white tee shirt has an SPF of 3. Colorless dyes that increase the SPF of fabrics to an SPF of 30 are available as laundry products. If you must be in the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, even on cloudy days.
Melanoma Mondays in May
Mark your calendars for May. We’ll be sharing a wealth of information on protecting your and your family’s skin from the deadliest form of skin cancer. We’ll be giving away t-shirts with UV protection on Facebook and running a “Get Naked…It Saved My Life” promotion with lots of tips on protecting your skin right before the active summer season starts.
Do you have a suspicious spot on your skin that you are concerned about? Water’s Edge Dermatology recommends that everyone have regular skin cancer screenings from a board-certified dermatologist, especially in sunny Florida. Schedule an appointment today and enjoy peace of mind. Click here to Request an Appointment or call 877.533.8214.