This summer, watch out for the melanoma!
Summer is just around the corner and, if you have not started yet, you will soon begin to go to the beach, sunbathe and do plenty of outdoor activities in which you will get exposed to sunlight and ultraviolet rays.
It is so pleasant to enjoy letting the warm summer sunlight tan your skin, but you must always use the appropriate sunscreen protection, since ultraviolet rays are one of the main causes of melanoma.
What is melanoma? Why is it dangerous? How can you identify it before it is too late? Is it possible to prevent it?
In this article, we will explain you everything you need to know about melanoma. If you want to know how to enjoy your summer as a whole without having to worry about ultraviolet rays, read until the end!
Melanoma: the most severe skin cancer
Indeed, melanoma is a kind of skin cancer that affects the cells which produce melanin, responsible for the skin colouring. They usually show up as a change in an existing mole or the formation of a new pigmented mark on the skin.
Even if it usually appears on skin areas that are usually exposed to sunlight, it can also show up on less visible zones, like the sole of the feet, the palm of the hands, under the nails, in the genitals, the digestive tract, on the eye, etc. However, the existence of melanomas in less exposed skin areas is more frequent among dark-skinned people.
As said before, one of the most important risk factors is the exposure to ultraviolet rays. Thus, fair-skinned people, as they have less melanin in the skin, are less protected against this kind of radiation. That is why they are more prone to get sunburnt and eventually suffer melanomas.
Besides, the excessive exposure to ultraviolet lamps and tanning beds can also raise the probability to suffer skin cancer. Furthermore, living close to equator or at a higher altitude also increases the risk.
And, if a relative of yours suffered melanoma in the past or you have lots of moles spread all over your body or an unusual kind of beauty mark, you may also be prone to suffer a melanoma in the future.
The early identification of melanomas is essential to increase the chance to successfully heal it and save the patient’s life. At an early stage, before it has started to spread, it is usually enough with a simple surgery that removes the damaged area.
Nevertheless, if the affected cells get into the bloodstream, more complex and invasive therapies will be needed in order to stop the progress of the disease. So, in order to prevent them from putting your life at stake, we will show you how to correctly prevent and detect melanomas.
How can you distinguish a melanoma from a beauty mark?
Melanomas usually show up as a change in the skin pigmentation. At first sight, they could look like common beauty marks, but if you take a closer look, you will find many differences.
Firstly, while moles are usually symmetric, melanomas are not. Therefore, if you want to identify a melanoma, look for moles with an irregular shape.
What is more, most of the melanomas have irregular edges. They could show cut or uneven edges. This is important, since benign moles usually have regular edges all over their shape.
Colour is also essential in order to identify melanomas. A uniform brown or black colour is a characteristic fact of benign moles. So, if you find a mole with an irregular pigmentation or a changing coloration over time, you should suspect.
Additionally, melanomas are usually large, while moles do not tend to be bigger than 6mm.
And, finally, moles are usually stable and do not change over time. Thus, if one of your moles becomes bigger, changes its shape or colour or presents news symptoms like itching or bleeding, we are probably talking about a melanoma.
Even with all that, do not wait for a mole to show all the aforementioned features. Some melanomas could only show one or two of them. Hence, go to see a doctor as soon as you identify an unusual mark on your skin.
How can you prevent melanomas?
Sunburnt and long exposure to ultraviolet rays are some of the main causes of skin cancer and melanoma, so reducing the incidence of the sunlight on your skin will help you reduce the probability to suffer skin diseases.
Try to avoid the sunlight during the hours when sun rays are stronger, not only on summer or when there is sunny weather, but all the year. You should also use sunscreen lotion every time you are going to go out, regardless of the weather.
It will also help wearing dark and tight clothes and a wide-brimmed hat, since they will protect you better from ultraviolet rays. And do not forget wearing appropriate sunglasses!
An abusive use of tanning beds and ultraviolet lamps is also dangerous. That is why you should avoid your exposure to them.
And, of course, check your skin regularly looking for new marks or any change in your moles. Examine any visible and non-visible area such as your face, neck, scalp, trunk, limbs, genitals and gluteus. Do not leave any place without being checked.
If you find anything unusual on your skin, make contact with Clinica Excelan, the best private GP centre in Marbella. We will send a doctor at home and make sure you are treated as you should. We are always looking after you…
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