As the weather gets warmer and the sun shines for more of the day, now is the best time to learn what signs and symptoms to look for that may indicate skin cancer or other forms of skin cancer.
Although the best treatment to prevent skin cancer are steps like applying effective sunscreens and wearing protective gear like broad-brimmed hats, but when the skin is impacted by the sun, it is important to know the signs of skin cancer and other skin conditions caused by the sun.
Signs of Skin Cancer
Around 20% of Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime, and it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Those with prolonged sun exposure or who have been burned by the sun multiple times have a higher chance of developing skin cancer earlier on in their lives.
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells grow and multiply in an uncontrolled manner instead of dying as they age or become damaged caused by exposure to the ultraviolet light of the sun. There are three types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the most deadly of the three types of skin cancer, and without treatment, this cancer can spread to other organs and parts of the body beyond the dermis.
Signs of skin cancer to monitor your skin for are the development of patches of darker skin or changes in shape or growth of existing moles. These changes of pigmentation and moles most commonly occur on the areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, and shoulders. The higher number of moles you have can predispose an individual to an increased risk of potential skin cancer.
However, skin cancer does not always arise from existing moles or lesions you may have. It can also arise as a completely new spot. In some cases, skin cancer can also arise on non-sun-exposed areas. This is why monthly self-exams to check for any changes of the skin are very important in addition to yearly skin exams with a board-certified dermatologist.
Other Skin Damage Caused by the Sun
Another condition caused by sun damage is melasma, a condition similar to the signs of skin cancer where brown patches appear on the nose, chin, cheeks, and lips. Although this discoloration is not dangerous, these patches can be embarrassing and can be treated by a professional dermatologist to remove the discoloration and patches. Prolonged sun exposure can also result in the early onset of wrinkles and burns.
If you believe you may be suffering from sun damage, the first step in treatment is getting a professional skin exam. During these exams, dermatologists search the skin for signs of sun damage, moles, and most importantly, signs of skin cancer. Moles can indicate melanoma cancer, but cancer can vary in size, shape, and color, so detection via a skin exam is the best way to treat skin cancer in its earliest stages. During these exams, dermatologists can also walk patients through the best treatments for each individual, as well as maintain an open and honest dialogue about your skin.
This nonablative fractional laser treatment was designed to specifically treat discoloration on the skin, making it the perfect laser treatment for melasma and other sun damage on the skin. This nonablative laser is safe for almost every skin type, and because it takes almost no time at all, it’s become known as a “Lunchtime Laser”- completed over a single lunch break.
The laser treatment works by creating micro-channels with minimal disruption to the first layer of the skin working as a laser assisted drug delivery system (LADD) to deliver the chemical compound directly into the targeted area of the skin. The laser then seals these microchannels and the compound is absorbed into the skin, clearing away the discoloration caused by sun damage.
This treatment involves a gentle stream of crystals that exfoliate the outermost layer of your skin and removes the skin cells killed off by sun damage. Typically, microdermabrasion is used alongside other skincare procedures such as a chemical peel and dermaplaning.
To schedule a skin exam or to find out which skincare treatment is right for you, request an appointment today!
You can also see Dr. Walia’s laser treatments in action on her Instagram page here!