The skin was only recently recognized as a separate organ. Still, we take the remarkable properties of skin for granted. It shields us from infections, regulates body temperature, and rebuilds itself on a monthly basis. Skin is the body’s largest organ and it is linked to other organs and its derivatives such as hair, glands, nails, and nerve endings.
The skin is very delicate and needs to be protected thoroughly from environmental factors in order to avoid diseases. One of these factors, and maybe the most impacting one, is the exposure to UV rays, as sunburns are among the most frequent reasons of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of damaged skin cells that usually develops on skin exposed to the sun. There are three major types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. It is highly important to be cautious, especially during the summertime. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 5 sunburns can more than double the risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Detection
Unlike other cancers that form internally, skin cancer forms externally and is usually visible. The majority of skin cancers can be treated if detected early, thus regular skin exams are crucial. Knowing what to look for on your own skin might help you spot cancer early when it’s easiest to treat before it becomes harmful or fatal.
Any irregular changes to the skin may be alarming, but specifically pay attention to marks growing in size, changing shape, developing discoloration, or irritation.
Skin Cancer Prevention
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, applying sunscreen when exposed to UV rays helps lower the risk of developing skin cancers and skin precancers. Consistent daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40%, and lower melanoma risk by 50%.
Follow the Cancer Council’s recommendations for sunscreen: choose one that is broad-spectrum (filters both UVA and UVB rays), water-resistant, and contains an SPF of 30 or higher.