Knowing how to spot the early signs of skin cancer is important to getting effective treatment. But beyond that, there are certain risk factors that can make you more prone to developing skin cancer. Here's what you need to know.
It should be noted first that anyone, regardless of skin color, can develop skin cancer. That being said, having fair skin does put you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Having less melanin (pigment) in your skin means you have less protection against the UV rays from the sun. When you're less protected against UV radiation, there's a higher likelihood that your skin will be damaged and develop skin cancer later on in life. If your skin is prone to sunburn and freckling after short periods of time in the sun, you're in a high-risk group for developing skin cancer.
Again, the lighter your hair, the less pigment it contains and the more at risk you are for UV radiation damage. This is particularly important to note because your scalp may not be the first place you check for skin cancer. In reality, skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body and is particularly fond of areas that have sun damage. When you schedule a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will take special care to examine your scalp for signs of skin cancer.
Severe sunburn is unpleasant all on its own, but it could also have more dangerous consequences than just being painful and itchy. A history of severe sunburns is a risk factor for the development of skin cancer. If you've had one or more blistering sunburns throughout your life, you could be in a higher-risk group for developing skin cancer. It's particularly important to note that severe sunburns from your childhood or from when you were a young adult are just as dangerous as severe sunburns as an adult.
Whether you're fond of sunbathing or tanning beds, excessive exposure to UV radiation is a huge risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Even sun exposure that doesn't result in a sunburn can put you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer if you're not taking care to protect your skin with clothing, shade, or SPF. Tanning beds have been linked to the development of multiple types of skin cancer in the past and may also contribute to premature aging.
If you've been diagnosed with skin cancer in the past, you're at a higher risk for developing it again in the future. Regardless of whether it was treated effectively or not, any personal history of skin cancer puts you at a greater risk for developing it again at a later date. In this instance, frequent skin cancer screenings need to be top priority.
If you think you possess one or more of these risk factors and want to schedule a skin cancer screening, contact our team at North Pacific Dermatology to set up an appointment today.