What is skin?
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It covers the internal organs and protects them from injury, serves as a barrier to germs such as bacteria, and helps prevent fluid loss. The skin helps control body temperature and gets rid of certain body wastes. Cells in the skin communicate with the brain and allow temperature, touch, and pain sensations.
What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
Risk factors for non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers include:-
- Unprotected or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (sunlight or tanning booths).
- Pale skin (easily sunburned, doesn’t tan much or at all, natural red or blond hair).
- Occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium.
- You or other members of your family have had skin cancers.
- Multiple or unusual moles.
- Severe sunburns in the past.
What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?
Skin cancer can be found early, and both doctors and patients play important roles in finding skin cancer. If you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor.
- Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth.
- Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or a change in the way a bump or nodule looks.
- The spread of pigmentation beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark.
- A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
Can skin cancer be prevented?
The best ways to lower the risk of skin cancer are to avoid long exposure to intense sunlight and practice sun safety. You can still exercise and enjoy the outdoors while using sun safety at the same time. Here are some ways to be sun safe:-
- Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you cannot see through when held up to a light.
- Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen and lip balm with broad spectrum protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to unprotected skin at least 30 minutes before outdoor activities. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
- Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
- Wrap on sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
- Sunscreen doesn’t protect from all UV rays, so don’t use sunscreen as a way to stay out in the sun longer.
- Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
- Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous. They also damage your skin.