Living in Utah, we have unlimited outdoor activities available to us, everything from hiking and biking to skiing and river rafting. We tend to spend a lot of time out in the elements. With that time in the sun comes the effects on our skin — wrinkling, sun spots, dryness…and skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in humans because, unlike camels or elephants, our skin isn’t very good at protecting us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Knowledge is key to protecting yourself, so here’s a little Skin Cancer 101 from your friends at the Saltz Plastic Surgery/Spa Vitoria. After all, May was Melanoma Awareness Month.
Three types of skin cancer
- Squamous cell carcinoma — This forms in the squamous cells, the flat cells just below the outer surface of the skin. Squamous cell growths, if detected early, are very easy to remove.
- Basil cell carcinoma — Basil cell carcinomas affect the basal cells, which are found under the squamous cells and produce new skin cells. If caught early, this type of skin cancer is also easy to remove.
- Melanoma — This is the word you don’t want to hear when it comes to skin cancer. Melanoma forms in the melanocytes where skin pigments are produced. Melanoma is far and away the most serious type of skin cancer because it easily spreads to other parts of the body.
Sunscreen — UVA vs. UVB?
These two acronyms are ubiquitous on sunscreen bottles. But they’re not even remotely the same. Some labels say the sunscreen blocks UVB rays. Others say they are broad based. You need a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Why? They both are beating up your skin. UVA rays penetrate the epidermis and affect the dermis beneath, causing your skin to age and creating the beginnings of skin cancer. UVB rays cause sunburn on the epidermis and also lead to the topical skin cancer lesions. Originally, scientists only thought UVB rays were the problem, due to their propensity to burn the skin, but UVA could be even worse for skin cancer.
Skin cancer is not to be taken lightly. If you have growths that are irregular in shape, color, size, or texture, or if any of them change shape or color, those are signs that the growth could be skin cancer. Yearly skin checkups are a good idea. If you haven’t had your skin checked, you need to do so. Our high altitude in Utah makes it a necessity. We can give you the names of a few local dermatologists Dr. Saltz highly recommends.
And when you want to do something about the aging the sun has inflicted on your skin, call us. We have myriad treatments to turn the clock back. Call (801) 274-9500 for our Salt Lake City office, and (435) 655-6612 for our Park City office.