Friday, June 6, 2008

How To Avoid Sun Damage And Skin Cancer

When you live by the beach, it’s hard to resist the temptation to go out boating, surfing, swimming and tanning every spare chance you get. However, the sun damage potential is great unless you lather on the sun-block, bring an umbrella and wear protective clothing, researchers warn. Think tanning beds are any safer? Guess again! Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in New Zealand ran a comprehensive report looking at 21 different studies and found that people who began using tanning beds under the age of 35 doubled their risk of getting melanoma. While some sunlight and melanin production is natural, choosing wisely can yield younger looking skin, easily subtracting ten years from your looks.

Sun damage isn’t just manifested in sunburns or blisters. There are other effects that are more subtle but just as dangerous in the long run. For instance, deep wrinkles, dryness, freckles, mottled pigmentation and skin transparency are a few symptoms of sun damage. A yellow discoloration, known as “sallowness”, Telagiectasias, known as the dilation of small blood vessels beneath the skin, or Elastosis, known as the damaging of the elastic tissue that causes lines and wrinkles are telltale signs that skin solutions should be sought. Worst case scenario, pre-cancerous lesions appear as a result of the skin’s diminished immune function, which may also lead to full-blown cancer.

To find out if you have skin cancer, you should follow the “ABCDE Rule.” The “A” stands for Asymmetry, meaning that if you were to divide your mole in half, it wouldn’t look the same on both sides. “B” is for Border, or a mole with jagged edges, “C” is for Color, as darkening means danger, “D” is for Diameter because a mole larger than ¼ inch is bad and “E” is for Elevation, as a raised mole with an uneven surface can also be cancerous. Other things to look out for are moles that bleed, grow fast or itch. If you suddenly notice a new marking, then keep an eye on it and try to cover it or apply sunscreen to minimize further sun damage.

Sun damage that is detected early and is not fatal can be treated by scraping, freezing, lasering or cutting out the injured tissue, allowing nature to take its course and rejuvenate. For melanoma skin cancer, there is wide surgical excisions, sentinel lymph node mapping, biological response modifiers and radiation therapy. Of course, the best cure is prevention, so applying sunscreen liberally every couple hours with an SPF of 15 or higher is a good idea.

What should I be doing?

To minimize the risk of sun damage you should formulate a summer skincare plan in early Spring for both you and your youngsters. Its a good idea to familiarize yourself with an introduction to sun protection and skin care techniques in general.

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