May is skin cancer awareness month! It is so vitally important to understand the causes, symptoms, and the ways to prevent skin cancer. Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells that most often develops on the skin exposed to the sun, but can even occur on areas not ordinarily exposed. There are three major forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While skin cancer can be treated, it is imperative to catch it early, as skin cancers like melanoma can be life-threatening.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer – about 8 out of 10 skin cancers are this type. Usually, this cancer develops on the areas of the skin that are most exposed to sunlight – like the head or neck. Luckily, this type of skin cancer grows slowly and it’s very rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread to other parts of the body. But, it is still very important to get your skin checked because if left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can spread to nearby areas and get into the bone or other tissues beneath the skin.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that usually appears in common sun-exposed areas such as the face, ears, neck, lips and backs of the hands and accounts for about 20% of all skin cancers. These cancer cells are more likely to spread to other parts of the body, but it is still uncommon.
Melanoma develops from melanocytes, the pigment-making cells of the skin. This type of skin cancer can appear anywhere on the skin, but is most common on the chest, back and the back of the legs. It can also develop in existing moles. Melanoma tumors are usually a brown or black, but can also be a mole that changes in color, size and feel.
Skin cancer develops in the skin’s epidermis – the top layer of the skin. This layer of the skin provides a protective cover of the skin cells – which includes three types of cells: squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes (hence the three most common types of skin cancer). Since skin cancer develops when errors occur in the DNA of skin cells, much of the damage that occurs is a result from ultraviolet radiation (UV) found in sunlight and in tanning beds. This is one of the main causes of skin cancer, though it is not the only cause. This indicates that there are other factors that play into the risk of skin cancer, like being exposed to toxic substances or having a condition that weakens the immune system.
The good news is, there are ways to protect your skin and prevent skin cancer. Since skin cancer’s most common cause is UV radiation from sunlight or tanning beds, you should always wear a sunscreen, even if it isn’t sunny outside. Avoiding intentional tanning, like laying out or using a tanning bed, is also extremely important. Not only does UV exposure cause skin cancer, but it can also cause wrinkles and accelerate skin aging. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm, so during this time try and seek out shade so that you are not directly in sunlight. Wearing protective clothing, like long-sleeves, pants, hat, and sunglasses can also help in protecting your skin. It’s important to be aware that the sun’s rays can also reflect off of water, snow, and sand which multiplies the sun’s harmful effects.
Always wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher. We have two great sunscreens that offer unprecedented protection against UVA and UVB rays. EXTREME PROTECT SPF 30 protects the skin against environmental damage with Extremozyme technology while also protecting the skin against solar damage from UV rays. The best part about EXTREME PROTECT SPF 30 is that it’s not just a sunscreen - it hydrates, smoothes and softens the skin, diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and reduces redness.
Our other sunscreen,
ECLIPSE SPF 50+
is specially formulated for daily use and extended outdoor activities. It provides all-physical broad
spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and a bit of hydration with a matte finish
Being educated about skin cancer and knowing the ways to prevent it is so important. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and it’s estimated that more than 8,500 people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Get educated. Be aware. Stay protected!