During the summer months, we can spend hours outside in the sun, and whether it’s in a swimsuit at a pool or in shorts on the porch, sometimes much of our skin is exposed to the sun. If your skin isn’t protected with sunscreen or covered with clothing, sun damage can cause skin discoloration, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, or eventually lead to skin cancer. It’s important to learn the signs of skin damage to seek treatment from your board certified dermatologist early on.
Types of Skin Damage
Sunspots, sun freckles, uneven skin tone, and discolored skin are all common when skin is constantly exposed to the sun. The sun’s rays are ultraviolet radiation ,and just like any radiation can cause premature aging and increase your risk for developing skin cancer.
Exposure to harmful UV radiation rays from the sun can also cause skin cancer to develop in more serious cases. There are multiple forms of skin cancer, each with its signs or symptoms to be mindful of.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. This type of cancer often presents with red or shiny sores that don’t heal and slowly keep growing.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer and often appears as thick nodules or bumps on the skin that can also be like sores that do not heal. Early forms of squamous cell skin cancer are often flatter and red thick scaly spots that won’t go away and also slowly enlarge.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and it can be deadly if not treated early on. Melanoma appears as moles or new lesions on the skin, or as existing moles or birthmarks which have suddenly changed shape or grown in size. Patches of skin that suddenly darken can also be a sign of melanoma cancer.
If you notice any changes in your skin, including new growths, sores that don’t heal, or changes in existing moles, it’s best to see a board certified dermatologist right away for a diagnosis and treatment options.
The best way to assess your skin’s health is with a skin exam. A skin exam is conducted by a board-certified dermatologist where they perform a thorough review of your skin, taking note of any growths, patches, or discolorations which may be of concern. Dr. Green or Dr. Walia will record or photograph irregular shapes and colors of growths on your skin that can need to be watched. For suspicious moles, Dr. Green or Dr. Walia either biopsies or performs a non-invasive genetic screening analysis for melanoma genes (called a DermTech analysis.)
It’s important to watch for changes in the size and textures of your moles- if there are rapid changes or the area begins to bleed, it is important to see a dermatologist right away.
It is our top priority to have an open line of communication with our patients during a skin exam as well as when creating a personalized treatment plan.
Fortunately, most growths are normal. But, if a skin growth that is biopsied comes back as suspicious, Dr Green, an expert and internationally recognized skin surgeon can remove your mole in the best way possible.
Sun damage and photodamage can lead to multiple problems beyond discolored skin or premature aging like wrinkles. You can also form fine lines of skin cancer if the damage is not addressed. When your skin is hurt by the sun, the LaseMD™ treatment can help repair the damage.
During the treatment, micro-channels are created in the skin with minimal disruption to the top layer of the skin in which ampoules of drugs are delivered to the skin to treat wrinkles and discoloration.
The best treatment is always prevention, so it’s important to protect your skin before spending time in the sun. Reduce damage to your skin and your chances of skin cancer by wearing sunscreen, wearing protective clothing like hats and long sleeves, and regularly monitoring your skin to catch any discoloration or new moles as soon as they become apparent.
By taking these simple steps, you can help keep your skin safe from the harmful effects of the sun!
For skincare tips, follow Dr. Green on Instagram: dr.lawrencegreen!