Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of the human body? It’s true. Your skin protects your muscles, your skeleton and your internal organs. It provides an outlet for your body to cool itself and maintain correct body temperature. For all that it is tough and versatile, it is also vulnerable to sun damage leading to skin cancer.
Many people do not realize the importance of maintaining the health of their skin. That maintenance starts from the inside out. Keeping your body hydrated and well nourished keeps skin healthy by providing the proper vitamins and nutrients for cell growth and reproduction. Wearing sun block of at least 15 SPF helps protect your skin from harmful UVB rays that can accelerate the growth of cancerous cells within the skin.
The three types of skin cancers are Basal Cell, Squamous Cell and Melanoma. All three types of skin cancers can be detected with visual diagnosis and biopsy confirmation and treated through surgical excision by a Dermatologist or MOHS surgeon if caught in time. Melanoma, the most serious of the three types listed, can be fatal when left untreated. Melanoma that is undiagnosed and untreated will go internal and metastasize throughout the body. There is no cure once this happens. If you have any new or suspicious spots, make an appointment immediately. It is far better to be safe than sorry.
Sun exposure over any period of time can trigger the growth of cancerous cells lying dormant in the skin. This is true not only of sunbathing at pools and beaches, but also in tanning booths. Diagnosis of melanoma in teenagers has been on the rise since the proliferation of tanning salons popping up in every shopping mall. The reason for the rise in this diagnosis is due to the myth that tanning booths are not nearly as harmful and tanning on the beach. This is not true and in fact is even more harmful because of the concentration of UVB in the booth and lack of regulation of these tanning salons.
Again, wearing a sun block of a minimum of 15 SPF can aid in preventing (but does not guarantee prevention and is neither a cure nor substitute for annual check ups) sun damage. It needs to be re-applied every three to four hours if spending the day outdoors. Wearing a hat and non-reflective, UVB protected sunglasses will also assist in protecting the skin of your face as well as protecting your eyes.
If you notice any “spots” on your skin that grow, change shape or color or appear flaky/are itchy, make an appointment immediately with a Board Certified Dermatologist. It is especially important to have a skin check if either parent has ever been diagnosed with any type of skin cancer.
Skin Check List:
(Signs of sun damage and possible skin cancer)
•Brown Spots -Usually referred to as “age” or “liver” spots-common sun damage – need to be monitored
•Red Spots- Called “cherries”-should be checked regularly
•Spots that change shape, color or size-get these checked immediately
•Flaky Spots-Usually AK’s (actinic keratosis)-these can be pre-cancerous and should be checked annually by a Board Certified Dermatologists
•Dry, Flaky and Itchy Spots-Usually SK’s (sebhorreic keratosis)-common and treatable but should still be checked annually by a Board Certified Dermatologist
•Moles that change size, color or shape should also be checked immediately
Picture provided by: www.dermatology.co.uk/melanoma/spotamelanoma/article/article.asp?ArticleID=1569
All information contained within this article was provided by the author who has spent five years working in Dermatology as a referral specialist, billing manager and as needed medical assistant.
Copyright © Michele Gwynn All Rights Reserved
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