This May, we celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Our medical doctors in direct primary care in Raleigh are standing alongside the Skin Cancer Foundation with the aim to raise the public’s skin cancer awareness. Your skin is the largest organ in your whole body, which is exposed to the outside environment, particularly the sun. Knowing how to take proper care of your skin can help reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.
The nature of skin cancer
Skin cancer occurs when there is a rapid growth of abnormal skin cells. It usually affects areas with frequent sun exposure, such as the face, lips, ears, neck, arms, and legs. However, it can also occur in areas that receive little to no exposure to the sun such as the genitals, the palms of the hands, and soles of the feet, as well as the skin underneath your nails.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Every year, 5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the country. In fact, approximately 1 in five Americans are expected to develop skin cancer before their reach 70 years old.
Pale complexion and skin cancer
Melanin is a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. This substance is responsible for the color of your eyes, hair, and skin. People who have a darker complexion have higher levels of melanin, while those with a lighter complexion have lower melanin levels.
Melanin is considered as the body’s natural sunblock, as it prevents harmful UV radiation from damaging your DNA, which might lead to skin cancer. Therefore, people with pale skin generally lack skin pigmentation, making them more susceptible to sunburn and developing skin cancer.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a classification of skin types according to skin cancer risk. If your skin often burns under the sun instead of getting tanned, you are classified under the high-risk group.
People with a naturally dark (brown or black) complexion can safely tolerate exposure to relatively high levels of UV radiation, however they can still damage their skin if they are too exposed to the sun.
Skin cancer prevention
Although skin cancer can affect anyone, it is considered the most preventable type of cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation has published the following skin cancer prevention tips to serve as your guide:
- Apply sunscreen daily, preferably those with SPF 15 or higher. This applies to people of all skin types.
- If you are to spend a lengthy amount of time outdoors, use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) and water-resistant sunscreen that has 30 or higher SPF.
- 30 minutes before going out, apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen. Reapply it every two hours, after sweating too much, and after swimming.
- Avoid sun exposure, especially between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.
- Don’t use tanning beds that use UV light. Research has shown that UV damage still continues even when you are already out of the tanning bed.
- Don’t get sunburnt. Don’t expose too much skin to the sun and wear sunglasses that can block UV rays.
- Keep newborn babies out of the sun. Sunscreen cannot be used on babies who are less than 6 months old.
- Be conscious of your skin. Take note of any change in skin color and hyperpigmentation that wasn’t there before.
In addition to observing these preventive measures, early detection and prompt treatment are also equally important in the battle against skin cancer. Arm yourself well by consulting your private pay doctor in Raleigh at least once a year and getting a thorough skin examination.
Aside from a friendly environment and modern facilities, membership to the Schneider Medical Group has other perks. These include having unlimited visits, getting a comprehensive diagnosis, and benefiting from a more personalized patient care. Book an appointment now or call us at 919-301-8971.
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 providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.