Texas ranks third in the nation for malignant melanomas

The deadliest of skin cancers

Skin cancer can strike anyone. It’s the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States, affecting everyone regardless of race and other demographic factors.

Repeated, unprotected sun exposure causes genetic changes in epidermal cells that can lead to skin cancers, including melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer – and Texas ranks third in the nation for incidence of malignant melanoma.

 

 

 

 

 

Skin cancers usually develop on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. But can also occur on hands, soles of feet, between fingers and toes, and even under your nails. And remember, even moderate exposure can cause irreversible skin damage and speed your aging process.

Be “sun smart” and protect your skin

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Protect it and still enjoy the outdoors by following these precautions:

  • Use sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on exposed skin. Apply liberally 30 minutes before sun exposure. (Don’t forget your ears.) Reapply every two hours and again after swimming.
  • Avoid direct sun between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (DST), when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most penetrating – and damaging.
  • Dress “sun-smart.When outdoors for extended periods, wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and a light-colored, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt.
  • Wear sun protection on overcast days. UV rays are strong enough to travel 93 million miles to Earth, penetrate clouds, and deliver damaging sunburns.
  • Beware of tanning beds. They can deliver a concentrated flow of UV rays seven times stronger than the solar noon.
  • African Americans can sunburn, too. People of all ethnicities should take sun-protective precautions.
  • If sunburned: Apply cool compresses and aloe vera gel, and drink plenty of fluids – preferably cool water. If severe, see a doctor.
  • See a dermatologist for annual skin exams – or right away if you notice sudden changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps, or birthmarks. The earlier a problem is identified, the better your chances are for a positive outcome.

Dr. Anita  Mehta is a board-certified dermatologist with special clinical interests that include treating skin cancer, psoriasis, acne, eczema, blistering disorders, disfigurements, blemishes, and scars.

ANITA MEHTA, MD, FAAD
Chief of Dermatology – Kelsey-Seybold Clinic
Berthelsen Main Campus, 2727 W. Holcombe Blvd.