In the Pacific Northwest, we’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and we’re not shy about getting out there and enjoying it. That means we get our fair share of sun exposure, despite our rainy Portland reputation. Most of us are cognizant about the sun and our skin, but the information’s not always correct.
Since we want our Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery patients to be in the know about all things skin, let’s see if you know these common topics about our largest organ, our skin..
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.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer
This is true. In the U.S. over one million people each year are diagnosed with skin cancer. Probably double that or more are undiagnosed. Those undiagnosed people are where the danger lies.
If you get skin cancer you die
This is not even remotely true. Most skin cancers, if detected early enough, are all treatable with surgery. Squamous cell carcinomas and basil cell carcinomas are far less concerning than melanoma, but all skin cancers are treatable, if caught early. That’s why yearly visits to the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery are necessary, so our dermatologists can spot the cancers and pre-cancerous spots before they progress.
Sunscreen prevents skin cancer
Nope. Sunscreen helps block the rays that lead to skin cancer, but just because you have on sunscreen doesn’t mean you can spend every waking minute in the sun without repercussions. Sun damage is cumulative. If you’ve ever received a serious sunburn, like we all did as children, then that damage comes due as an older adult.
If you have lots of moles, you have a higher risk of melanoma
This is true. People with moles, especially large ones, have a higher risk of melanoma. Those moles need to be checked constantly to see if they change shape or color. It’s generally thought that if you have over 50 moles on your body you have a higher risk of skin cancer.
How’d you do? Fortunately, YOU don’t have to be the expert because that’s our gig at Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery. Is it time to have your skin checked? Call us at (503) 297-3440 to make your appointment.