Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

In this article, our skin care experts at Skin Theory Aesthetics™ help you protect yourself with a comprehensive guide on skin cancer prevention tips.

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. Statistics show that about 1 in 5 Americans will develop it at some point during their lifetime. Fortunately, when diagnosed early, it is also one of the most curable.

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Your best protection against skin cancer is still prevention. Here we help you understand  what skin cancer is, what causes it, and what you can do to best protect yourself to significantly reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips - Understanding Your Skin

To understand what skin cancer is, let’s first take a look at your skin. Because most people think that skin is just an outer covering for the body, many get surprised that it is actually the largest organ in the body.

Skin has several layers. The two main layers are the:

  • Epidermis - this is the outermost layer of the skin

  • Dermis - the lower or inner layer. This layer contains blood, hair follicles, and glands.

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The Epidermis is made up of three kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells - These are thin, flat cells that form the topmost layer of the epidermis

  • Basal cells - These are round cells found under the squamous cells

  • Melanocytes - These are the cells that make melanin and are found in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color.

Melanocytes produce more melanin when the skin is exposed to the sun. This is the reason why skin darkens when you stay under the sun.

It is at the epidermis that skin cancer develops, hence when skin cancer develops, the type of cells it affects determines what kind of carcinoma (cancer) it is. We will discuss this in more detail later.

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips - What Causes Skin Cancer

The main culprit in most cases of skin cancer is UV rays or, rather, overexposure to themt. But what exactly are UV rays?

UV or Ultraviolet radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation emitted by the sun and artificial sources (tanning beds, sun lamps, halogen lights, some types of lasers).

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UV rays can be beneficial, such as in the case of creation of Vitamin D in the body. However, they can cause health risks. They can cause damage to skin cells. Short term overexposure can cause a sunburn.

However, UV ray damage is cumulative. Over time, damage is manifested by changes in skin texture and premature aging.

Too much exposure to UV rays can also damage your skin’s DNA. When this happens, the skin’s ability to control skin cell growth is impaired and this may lead to cancer.

The other cause of skin cancer is cancer causing chemicals.

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips - Types of Skin Cancer

There are different types of skin cancer. The type of cell it affects determines what kind of cancer (carcinoma)  it is:

Basal Cell Carcinoma - This is the most common form of skin cancer and is the slowest growing. This occurs most frequently on the exposed parts of the body including the face, ears, neck, shoulders, back and even the scalp.

A basal cell carcinoma usually appears as a small, shiny nodule (bump) on the skin. The most common cause of this type of skin cancer is chronic unprotected exposure to the sun.

People who are most vulnerable to this kind of cancer are those with fair skin, blonde or red hair, and blue, green or gray eyes.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma - This is the second most common skin cancer. It occurs in the outer layer of the skin. This type manifests itself as red, scaly lesions or sores on the rim of the ear, the face, the lips and the mouth.

Though not usually life threatening, it can spread to other areas of the body if left untreated.

People who are middle aged or elderly with fair complexions and who are frequently exposed to the sun are most likely to contract this type of skin cancer.

Malignant Melanoma - This rare and very aggressive kind of skin cancer forms in the melanocytes. As previously mentioned, these are the cells that produce the pigment melanin.

Though melanoma is deadly, and thousands of people die from this disease, it is very curable when detected in its early stages.

The scary thing about melanoma is it can appear without warning. It may begin in or near a mole, or another dark spot in the skin. Excessive sun exposure that leads to sunburn is believed to be the most significant cause of melanoma.

Evidence also points to indoor tanning (tanning beds) may also cause this type of skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips - Risk Factors

While some factors are beyond your control, knowing what can put you at risk can help you take preventive steps to protect yourself against skin cancer.

1. Sun damage - If you spend a lot of time in the sun and have had a history of sunburn, you increase your risk for melanoma as well as non melanoma cancer.

2. Light skin, eyes and hair - Pigment in your skin protects your cells against harmful UV rays. People with light pigmentation are more vulnerable to skin cancer.

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3. Location - Your chances of getting melanoma increases if you live in a warm climate or high elevation where you’re likely to be exposed to higher amounts of UV radiation from the sun.

4. Age - Most nonmelanoma types of cancer are likely to manifest in adults 50 or older. This is because you experience more and more harmful UV rays as you grow older.

5. History of skin cancer -  If there’s a history of skin cancer in the family, this increases the odds of you also contracting the disease. And certainly, if you’ve already had nonmelanoma cancer, you’re likely to get it again.

6. Gender - Women under 50 are more likely to develop melanoma than men in the same age bracket. However, men are more likely to get nonmelanoma skin cancer than women.

7. Exposure to toxins - Exposure to certain chemicals like arsenic and working with radiation can cause skin cell damage and therefore, increase your chances of getting cancer.

8. Having moles - More moles increase the likelihood of getting skin cancer.

9. Weak immune system - A compromised immune system makes you vulnerable to skin cancer, or any kind of cancer for that matter.

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips - What You Can Do To Reduce Risk of Skin Cancer

Tip 1:  Wear Sunscreen

We can never emphasize this enough - sun protection with sunscreen is key! Reducing and limiting your skin’s exposure to the UV rays using sunscreen goes a long way in preventing skin cancer development.

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Here are our helpful tips in selecting the best sunscreen:

  • SPF - Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 50 if you’re going to be under direct sunlight for some time. Choose a higher SPF if you belong to the high risk group.

  • Broad Spectrum - This type of sunscreen protects you both from UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for burns and skin cancers. UVB rays can cause burns, age spots and wrinkles.

  • Not just once. We recommend using 2 tablespoons or one ounce of product thirty minutes before stepping out. Then reapply sun protection every two hours. If you’re swimming or are sweating more profusely while outside, you may reapply sunscreen sooner.

Skin Theory Aesthetics ™ carries a line of highly effective sun protection products:

SPF Elta MD - Has UV elements with Hyaluronic Acid

Elta MD UV Clear - Perfect sun protection for people prone to acne. However, this works for normal skin, too.

Skin Theory Brush Away the Sun - Contains 20% Zinc Oxide and 17% Titanium. Zinc Oxide provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection while titanium oxide helps keep the formula lightweight and minimize excess oil.

Tip 2: Practice Safety Under the Sun

Did you know that you can experience skin damage in as little as 15 minutes of exposure to the sun?  If you’re outdoors, be wise and protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays:

  • Find shade. If you’re spending time outdoors, find a shady spot so you’re not directly under the sun. Avoid direct sun exposure especially between 10 am to 3 pm.

  • Wear your shades. Not just any sunglasses, though. Make sure the pair you wear outside has UVA and UVB protection. These not only protect your eyes, they also protect the delicate skin around the eyes.

  • Choose appropriate clothing. While it may seem uncomfortable, especially during the summer, we recommend wearing long sleeves and pants if you will be outside under the sun for extended periods of time. Breathable, lightweight fabrics can help you to stay cool.

  • Hats help. Hats, especially wide brimmed ones, offer extra protection against the sun.

Tip 3:  Avoid Tanning Beds

Numerous studies show that the risk of melanoma increases by 75 % when you use a tanning bed. Even if you do not burn under artificial UV light, this does not reduce your risk for UV damage and skin cancer.

Tip 4:  Avoid the Sun When Taking Certain Medications

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Certain medicines contain ingredients that may cause photosensitivity that makes you sensitive to sunlight. This makes you more vulnerable to sun burns and can make you break out in rashes.

Some examples:

  • Antibiotics

  • Antifungals

  • Antihistamines

  • Cholesterol lowering drugs

  • Diuretics

  • NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc)

Tip 5:  Do a Self Examination Once a Month

Most skin cancers, including the deadly melanoma are curable when caught in the early stages. We recommend doing a self exam of your skin from head to toe every month. Here are the things to watch out for:

  • Sudden, fast growing skin growth

  • Patches of scaly, red skin that does not go away

  • Sudden pain, itchiness or tenderness

  • Bleeding or oozing from a skin spot

  • A mole that changes color or shape or has irregular borders

If you notice anything out of the normal, it’s best to see your dermatologist for proper diagnosis.

Tip 6:  Consider Products with Retin-A and Vitamin B-3

Retinol products can increase the production of new skin cells which in turn prevent skin cancer. However, retinol can make you more sensitive to the sun. Be sure to use sunscreen when using products with Retin-A or retinol.

On the other hand Niacinamide (a form of Vit B-3) has been shown to lower the risk of certain types of skin cancer especially those in the high risk bracket.

Here is what Niacinamide can do:

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Improve skin moisture

  • Build proteins in the skin

This helps protect the skin against environmental damage, including sun exposure.

Tip 7:  Get Skin Cancer Screenings

If you’re in the high risk group, and even if you don’t have skin concerns, we recommend having yearly skin cancer screening checks with your dermatologist. They will be able to see areas of your body you may miss during your monthly self-check of your skin.

In addition, your dermatologist can examine any moles or other skin growths for possible skin cancer. If there are growths that look malignant (cancerous), removing them may prevent spread to other areas of the body.

Need More Skin Cancer Prevention Tips? Consult with Skin Theory Aesthetics ™

At Skin Theory Aesthetics ™, we take care of your skin. We offer sun protection products that help skin cancer prevention and rejuvenation procedures that keep your skin looking young and amazing!

Our skin care experts make sure you get the best experience by creating a custom treatment program that is especially designed for you and your skin’s needs.

If you’re ready to look fresh and glowing, request for an appointment online or call us at (951) 735-5570 today.

Tags: Skin Cancer Prevention, tips to prevent skin cancer, how to prevent skin cancer, what causes skin cancer, reduce risks of skin cancer