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Protect Your Skin: Essential Tips for Skin Cancer Prevention

Summertime brings warm weather, swimming, and, unfortunately, an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Approximately 5.4 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed annually. This translates to 3.3 million Americans affected, as some people may receive multiple diagnoses. Of those diagnoses, 8 out of 10 are basal cell cancers, with squamous cell cancers appearing less often.

In this blog post, explore essential tips on how to protect your skin now and prevent skin cancer. Read on to be informed and keep your skin safe during the warm months.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells due to a mutation in the DNA of these cells. Skin cancer can affect any part of the body and is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and tanning beds.

Skin cancer can be treated if detected early. Common treatments include cryosurgery, laser therapy, radiation therapy, and chemical creams. Your doctor can help you determine the best treatment for your specific type of skin cancer. It is important to be aware of any changes in the size, color, or feel of any moles or patches of skin on your body.

Regularly checking for changes in moles is the best way to detect early signs of skin cancer. Additionally, prevention measures such as regular use of sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and wearing protective clothing can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

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What are the types of skin cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer:

  1. Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a premalignant skin condition caused by prolonged exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays. Often appearing as scaly, rough patches on the face, AK can cause itching, burning, and lesion formation. While usually harmless, those with AK should have it examined by a dermatologist- early treatment can greatly reduce the risk of skin cancer.

  1. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically appears as a small, fleshy bump or blotch on the sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, neck, arms, and upper chest. BCC often looks like sores that don’t heal, red patches, or raised bumps.

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is another common type of skin cancer. It usually appears as a scaly, red patch that may crust over and bleed. SCC is most commonly found on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, forearms, hands, and legs. 

  1. Melanoma 

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It can spread to other areas of the body and be fatal if not detected and treated early. Melanoma typically appears as a dark mole or lesion and can occur anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun. 

What are the risks of skin cancer?

As one of the most common forms of cancer, skin cancer carries several potential risks for those who are diagnosed. Not only can it be life-threatening, but it can also affect the quality of life of those affected by the disease. Here are some of the potential risks associated with skin cancer:

  • Un-diagnosis: Skin cancer can be difficult to diagnose, as any suspicious growths or discolorations might not necessarily be caused by cancer. If left undiagnosed, the cancer can spread quickly and become more difficult to treat.
  • Negative side effects of treatment: Treatments such as chemotherapy can leave patients feeling very weak and fatigued. The side effects of these treatments can be severe and can cause long-term issues such as skin discoloration, nerve damage, and even organ damage.
  • Metastasis: Skin cancer can metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes or internal organs. This can cause additional complications, such as respiratory issues or even death.
  • Damage to appearance: Low-grade skin cancers, such as basal or squamous cell carcinoma, can leave permanent scars on the affected area. In severe cases, these scars can be cosmetically unsightly and lead to self-consciousness or feelings of shame.

What are the benefits of sun protection?

Sun protection is essential to protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. When you use sun protection on a regular basis, you can gain several health and aesthetic benefits. 

  • Avoid premature aging and skin damage
  • Lower the risks of skin cancer
  • Improve overall health
  • Protect the body from harmful UV rays
  • Keep your skin looking younger and healthier
  • Enjoy longer outdoor activities
  • Reduce the eye strain caused by bright sunlight
  • Even skin tone and long-term skin health benefits

Simple tips to prevent skin cancer

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There are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of skin cancer and protect your skin from the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Here are some of the simple tips you can take:

  1. Use sunscreen wherever you go outside

Wherever you go outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours as needed. Make sure to cover all areas of exposed skin, including areas that are most often overlooked, such as the ears, feet, and back of the neck.

  1. Check the UV index and avoid peak times

Using the UV Index, plan outdoor activities and errands for times of lower UV radiation. Try to avoid the sun’s most intense rays between 10 AM and 4 PM.

  1. Avoid tanning beds

Tanning beds expose your skin to radiation and have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

  1. Wear protective clothing

Wear long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats when you go outside. Select clothing made of tightly woven fabric, since UV radiation can seep through loosely woven fabrics. Look for sun-protective clothing with labels that show UPF numbers, a rating system used to indicate a fabric’s ability to block UV radiation.

  1. Seek shade when possible

Whenever possible, seek out shade during peak UV radiation times. Sun-protective umbrellas, pavilions, and trees provide valuable protection by blocking UV radiation.

  1. Get Vitamin D from food

Get your daily dose of Vitamin D from food instead of the sun. Look for milk, orange juice, yogurt, salmon and other food sources.

  1. Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation. Foods naturally rich in antioxidants, such as tomatoes, green tea, and peppers can help protect the skin from UV-induced skin damage.

  1. Get regular skin exams

Schedule regular skin exams with a dermatologist or primary care physician to detect skin cancer early.

Keep your skin healthy with Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches

Are you are looking online for “urgent care near me” for a burn that requires medical attention? Look no further! Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches is here to help. Protect your skin by taking precautionary steps and getting screened.

 Visit one of our clinics near you: 

Whatever your urgent care need, we are here for you seven days a week. Contact us if needed! We wish you a safe and healthy summer!

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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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