Keeping your skin safe in the summer - Penn State Hershey Dermatology

Uploaded by PennStateHershey on 27.04.2011

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. And we break down skin cancer into melanoma
and non-melanoma skin cancer. The most common are the non-melanoma skin
cancer, predominantly basal-cell carcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma.
And those make up more than seventy-five percent to eighty percent of skin cancers and then
less than five to ten percent are melanomas. But melanomas make up almost eighty percent
of the deaths from skin cancers so they’re much more deadly.
What happens is the ultraviolet light causes damage to the DNA in the skin, and then there
is a natural repair process that is always going on.
I like to think of it as little ambulance shooting up and down the skin picking up and
fixing constantly. But every so often the damage becomes either
so severe, or too numerous, or the repair process is just faulty and skin cancers can
get by. There are certain diseases that have defects
in that repair process, and that’s where we see people with thousands of skin cancers.
And that’s how we’ve learned what causes skin cancers, is through those diseases, in
people with those genetic defects. Well the screening can be as much or as little
as you want. You are always in charge.
When you do come in you are offered a gown so that you can have a complete screening
if you’d like. Or you can just have your head and neck screened
or the backs of your hands. Most people choose to have a complete screening
where they put on a gown and they do sometimes even remove their undergarments as well so
that they can have that area screened. And everything is all the skin is examined.
We go from the top of your head all the way to the bottom and underside of your feet,
looking in between your toes as well because skin cancer can be there as well.
We do like to tell people to look at least once a month, after you get out of the shower,
dry off, and just turn around and look in the mirror.
Look at the back sides of your legs, areas that you normally, and your back area, that
you normally wouldn’t see and check. And especially now that it’s getting warm,
people are getting into shorts and they are getting out of the long slacks and long sleeved
shirts. So start looking at the areas that haven’t
seen the sun over the winter months. You can go out in the sun but there are things
you should do to be safe. Trying to go out earlier in the day or later
in the day. You want to stay away from the sun when your
shadow is shorter than you. When you look down and your shadow is very
short that means the sun is directly overhead and it’s at its strongest.
Another thing that you can do is wear protective clothing, a hat with a wide brim, at least
three or four inches. Using sunscreen is also very helpful.
We suggest using something that is SPF 25 to 30 or higher.
And the most important thing about sunscreen is putting it on sufficiently, enough, and
then putting it on frequently, reapplying. Most people put it on once in the morning
and then they forget about it. But you do need to reapply especially if you
are outdoors sweating, and doing things like that, or if you are swimming.
When you come out of the water you need to reapply your sunscreen.
Protective clothing can also be a long sleeve shirt.
It doesn’t have to be a warm one, but even a loose cotton shirt can give you some protection
from the sun. Or an umbrella.
What I like to tell people is to not be afraid. Often patients will come in with a skin cancer
that’s so far advanced because they were afraid to come in to get help.
And the best thing to do is to come in as soon as you think that there’s something
wrong or that you’ve noticed a new lesion. Because melanoma, especially the most deadly
skin cancer is very treatable in its earliest forms.
And with melanoma the more severe it is as to how deep it is in the skin.
So if you catch it early you can cure it up to almost 95 to 96 percent cure rates.
You cut it out and it’s gone. However, if you ignore it and it becomes deep
and advanced, we have very few good treatments for melanoma, and it becomes seriously lethal.
And melanoma’s not a tricky skin cancer. It’s not like colon cancer or breast cancer.
It’s not hidden. It is sitting right on the skin.