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Sun Damage and Skin Cancer

Sun Damage and Skin Cancer Aug 16, 2022 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team

Most people know that too much sun exposure can cause skin damage, but did you know that it can also lead to skin cancer, too? August is Summer Sun Safety Month, which makes it a good time to learn about sun damage and the different types of skin cancer.

Sun Damage

Skin damage from the sun can take two forms: primary and secondary. Primary skin damage is caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight itself. This type of damage includes sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. Secondary skin damage is caused by the visible light that reflects off surfaces like water, snow, sand, or pavement. Either way, UV rays can damage the skin in two ways:
  • Change the way the skin looks — wrinkles, brown spots, or skin that is thinning, red, or has lost its elasticity.
  • Damage the DNA in skin cells. This damage can accumulate over time and lead to skin cancer.

Skin Cancer

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources increases your risk of developing skin cancer. UV radiation can damage the DNA in skin cells. This damage can build up over time and lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and there are three main types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common type of skin cancer, and it usually appears as a small, flesh-colored or white bump on the skin. It can look like a flat, scaly patch of skin with a raised border. Sometimes it can appear as a lesion with dark spots or be waxy as well. Basal cell carcinomas usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the head and neck. It will appear as a change in the skin that continues to grow and not heal over time.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer usually appears as a firm, red bump on the skin. It can also look like a scaly patch of skin or an open sore. Squamous cell carcinomas usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the scalp, hands, ears, and lips. If you have a sore or scab that doesn't heal after two months, it could be a skin of skin cancer and time to visit the dermatologist.

Melanoma

This is the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanomas can appear as a new unusual mole or a change in an existing mole. They are usually black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, blue, or white. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the skin, but they are more likely to occur on your back, legs, arms, and face. The exact cause isn't clear, but exposure to UV radiation increases your risk of developing melanoma.

When to Visit the Dermatologist

If you have any concerns about a spot on your skin, it is important to see a dermatologist. They will be able to tell if it is skin cancer and, if so, what type. Skin cancer is usually treated with surgery, but the type of surgery will depend on the stage of cancer. Early detection is key to successful treatment, so don't delay in making an appointment if you have any concerns.

Make An Appointment

At Complete Family Dermatology, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive skin care for the whole family. We understand how important it is to have healthy skin, which is why we offer a wide range of services to meet your needs for skin cancer, acne treatment, reconstruction, and more. To make an appointment, please call us at 402-423-1111. We look forward to meeting you!

References:

Basal Cell Carcinoma, Mayo Clinic; Melanoma, Mayo Clinic; Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin, Mayo Clinic.

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