Skin Cancer
Preventive Care

Everyone Needs Protection from the Sun

A problem with any of your organs is troubling. Heart, liver, kidney, or lung issues would be a cause for alarm. 

That doesn’t seem to be the case with skin. It’s the body’s largest organ, but we’re often dismissive of taking better care of it. That is probably why skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.

In truth, caring for your skin is easy. As the summer heats up, here’s how to protect yourself against sunburns and identify unusual growths or marks that could be cause for concern.

Woman Putting on Sunscreen

Treating a Sunburn

Maybe you forgot to put sunscreen on your shoulders, or you didn’t reapply in time. Despite our best efforts, sunburns do happen. Here are some tips for treating the damage to your skin:

  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain, headache, and fever.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Soothe burns with cool baths or by gently applying cold, wet cloths.
  • Use a topical moisturizing cream or aloe to provide additional relief.
  • Do not expose the burn area to sunlight until the burn has healed.
  • If your skin blisters, lightly bandage or cover the area with gauze to prevent infection. Do not break blisters as that would slow healing and increase your risk of infection. If blisters do break, apply antiseptic ointment.

Seek medical attention if you have a severe sunburn, especially if it covers more than 15% of your body, are dehydrated, have a high fever, or are in extreme pain that lasts more than 48 hours.

Skin Cancer Basics

Skin cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells on the epidermis — the outer layer of skin. It is triggered by overexposure to ultraviolet rays from either the sun or tanning beds. 

Protecting skin with sunscreen, a hat, or covering up with clothing are among the best methods for protecting against skin cancer. Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended for everyone, no matter your complexion or how much time you expect to spend in the sun. 

One in five adults will develop one of the following types of skin cancer before they turn 70: 

  • Basal cell carcinoma 
  • Melanoma 
  • Nonmelanoma skin cancer 
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin 

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is one of the most common forms of skin cancer. It starts in a specific type of cell that produces new skin layers as the old skin layers die. 

It’s most common on the face, head, and neck since they get the most exposure to the sun. Basal cell carcinomas most often appear as: 

  • A shiny skin-colored bump 
  • A lesion that’s black, brown, or blue 
  • A flat, scaly patch 
  • A white, waxy, scar-like lesion 

See your doctor if these ever appear on your skin. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is also a very common form of skin cancer. This develops from cells in the middle and outer layers of skin. It’s caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet (UV) radiation. 

While not usually life threatening, it can be aggressive and spread to other squamous cells which are found in multiple places on the body. This includes places NOT exposed to sunlight. 

Symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include: 

  • A rim, red nodule 
  • A flat sore with a scaly crust 
  • A raised area or sore on an old scar 
  • A rough, scaly patch on the lip that becomes an open sore 
  • A rough patch or red sore inside the mouth 
  • A wartlike sore on the anus or genitals 

See a doctor if you develop a sore that won’t heal after a couple of months. 


This is the most serious type of skin cancer and forms in the cells that create melanin or skin pigmentation. Melanoma risk is increasing for people under 40, especially women. The exact cause is unclear, but exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning lamps increases the risk. 

Melanomas can develop anywhere, including places not exposed to the sun, like the soles of the feet, palms, or fingernail beds. These “hidden” melanomas are much more common in people with darker skin. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Changes in a mole 
  • A new pigmented growth on the skin 

Dermatologists recommend using the letters “ABCDE,” to help identify moles that may be melanomas or other skin cancers. 

  • A is for asymmetrical shape 
  • B is for irregular border 
  • C is for changes in color 
  • D is for diameter 
  • E is for evolving 

Nonmelonoma Skin Cancer

This includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous along with about six others that form on other parts of the skin. 

Skin cancer can be successfully treated with surgery for removal. But patients who believe they have cancerous cells on their skin need to contact their doctors immediately. Left untreated, skin cancer can spread and be fatal. 

Protecting the skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the BEST way to prevent skin cancer. 

Doctor Checks Patient Skin

Check Your Skin

Early detection of skin abnormalities is the best way to identify, then develop a treatment plan to prevent skin cancer from spreading. This improves the chances of treating or even curing it. 

The best way to stay healthy and make sure you are getting the screenings you need is to get regular health checkups. Depending on your personal and family health histories, your doctor may recommend additional screenings for you. 

Contact AltaMed at (888) 499-9303 for more information about the health screenings you need.  

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Everyone Needs Protection from the Sun