Regulating sun exposure often seems like a no-win scenario: too little sunlight means missing out on the restorative power of Vitamin D, and too much increases the risk of damage from ultraviolet rays. Although many people regulate their sun exposure properly, others experience problems including sunburn and even skin cancer.
The three major forms of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Understanding the risk factors, progress, and remedies for such conditions helps to mitigate, and often prevent, the advance of the most prevalent kind of cancer. Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to talk about what skin cancer looks like, feels like, and how to prevent it.
As noted above, frequent unprotected exposure to sunlight can make skin cancer more likely, especially with old age. It follows that those parts of the body most frequently exposed to the sun would be those where cancer would make itself evident. The arms, legs, face, and neck, therefore, are particularly vulnerable.
These areas, however, aren’t always where skin cancer appears, so regular checks of the whole body are advised, especially if you know you’re at risk based on family history or lifestyle habits. Any irregularities should be noted and monitored. Prompt consultation with a board-certified dermatologist can prevent any dangerous condition from festering. Unusual textures or spots may be nothing, but they could also be something more serious.
Basal Cell Carcinoma most often appears in the sun-exposed regions. A bump or multiple bumps with a smooth texture similar to pearls or wax often reflects this condition. Another sign is a flat, beige lesion resembling a scar. Sores that bleed, scab, heal, and then return to the same place can also indicate basal cell carcinoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma likewise appears on the frequently uncovered parts of the skin, though people with darker skin discover these signs elsewhere as well. A somewhat hard and red nodule is one potential symptom. Another is a flattened legion with a crusted or scaly surface.
Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body: in men, it’s most often discovered on the torso or the face. In women, more frequently found on the lower legs. Melanoma can form in a mole or on seemingly unaffected skin. Its symptoms include:
- Brownish spots with blackish speckles
- Moles that change colors and sizes, and are otherwise susceptible to bleeding
- Small lesions of varying hues: pink, white, red, blue, or blue-black
- Itchy and burning lesions
- Darker lesions on toes soles of feet, palms, fingers, and toes
- Lesions on mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, vagina, or anus
If you think your skin is showing signs of troublesome developments, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist immediately. Dr. Liz Damsetter is a board-certified dermatologist at Reserve Dermatology and Aesthetics. Her training exceeds the typical dermatological course of study and she has been published in the areas of acne, hair loss, and laser treatments. Respected by patients and peers, Dr. Damsetter can help your skin look and be healthier than ever with her “reserved” approach to dermatology both cosmetic and medical. Learn more about what could be bothering your skin by calling our North Shore office or contacting us online today.