We know the scene all too well. Already running ten minutes behind, carrying a purse, a tote bag and likely someone else’s stuff -- somehow we’ve made it out the door and are pulling out of the driveway. And then it hits you. You and your never ending spiraling to-do list forget the one most important to-do: sunscreen.The RaVina Labs family gets it. Believe us, we do. We want to share all of our nursing knowledge with you when it comes to skin cancer awareness. I want us to be aware all the time of what UV radiation can do to us. If you’re hanging out on the beach or skiing or hiking or driving or working next to a window or just running out to do the errands or walk the dog, you need to be aware of what to look for and you need to follow some rules so you can better protect yourself against skin cancer.
RaVina Labs wants to spread the word about the dangers of skin cancer and help save lives.
You might be shocked to learn that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, but it is also the most preventable. Take that in for a second. 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. ¹
What does the sun’s rays do to our skin?
The sun, which is a nuclear reaction, sends radiation to our earth in the form of ultraviolet rays known as UV (ultra-violet). These UV RAYS are broken down into UVA, UVB, and UVC which cause sunburn, aging of the skin, and the development of skin cancer.
How does skin cancer occur?
UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds damages the DNA found in skin cells. The body's immune system will work very hard to try to repair the damage done to the DNA and it will repair some of it. Unfortunately, not all the DNA will be repaired and if continuous UV exposure occurs, this damaged DNA can mutate and turn into skin cancer.
Where does skin cancer occur?
Skin cancer occurs in the upper layer of the skin called the epidermis. The epidermis is broken into 5 layers of differentiating skin cells which are: (starting from the bottom) the stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and the stratum corneum. Skin cancer forms in the basale layer and the squamous layer in the epidermis. ² ³
SO WHAT EXACTLY CAN I DO?
Prevention & Education are key to protecting against skin cancer. Know the rules of how to protect against UV exposure.
What type of sunscreen should I use?
USE and REAPPLY YOUR Broad Spectrum PHYSICAL SUNBLOCK (TITANIUM DIOXIDE AND/OR ZINC OXIDE) EVERY 2-3 HRS, slather it on.
What is the right amount of sunscreen?
1 oz (2tbsp) is the proper amount of sunscreen that needs to be applied to your entire body. Apply 30 minutes before you go outside and re-apply after excessive sweating and swimming
Other rules to live by?
Cover up when you are outside. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves if you can! Unfortunately, sunblocks will never protect you 100%. Physical shade and physical protection are the only true safety from the sun’s harmful rays. By the way, when I say hats, I don’t mean that baseball cap. You need a wide brimmed hat to cover your entire face, especially between the hours of 10am and 4pm.
Beware of the UV power. UV penetrates glass and reigns powerful on a cloudy day. So when you’re sitting near a window or driving, even on a cloudy day, remember it doesn’t make a difference. You always need to wear your sunblock and if possible, a hat.
This might be obvious, but avoid tanning beds.
And, if you are going to get your nails done and you are drying them under the nail lamp, be aware that they emit UV. Put a physical sunblock on your hands.
Lastly, UV is reflective so be sure to pay special attention around snow, sand, asphalt and water.
Practice makes perfect. Examine your skin head to toe every month. Be aware of any changes to your skin. Also, see a dermatologist at least once a year for a medical skin exam.
There are 3 forms of skin cancer to be aware about:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The most common type of precancerous skin lesion is: actinic keratoses. ⁴
Basal cell carcinoma:
- Forms in the lowest layer of our skin, the stratum basale ⁵
- The most common form of skin cancer. ⁶
- Caused by intermittent and intense UV exposure, as well as cumulative, long term exposure to the sun ⁷
- DESCRIPTION OF BASAL CELL CARCINOMA ⁸:
- Shiny bump, pearly or translucent, can appear pink, red, white or clear
- Open sore that bleeds and doesn't heal
- Slightly elevated border and indentation of the middle
- Reddish or crusty patch
Examples of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma:
- Forms in the stratum spinosum layer of the skin ⁹
- The 2nd most common form of skin cancer ¹⁰
- Caused by cumulative long term UV exposure and tanning beds ¹¹
- DESCRIPTION OF SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA ¹²:
- Wart like growth that crusts and can bleed
- Scaly red pattern with irregular borders and can bleed and crust
- Elevated growth with a central depression
Examples of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Melanoma forms from the melanocyte cells found in the stratum basale. Melanocytes form melanin which is the pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes its color. ¹³
- Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It is highly aggressive and it has the highest risk of spreading throughout the body to the brain, lungs and bones. Melanoma can metastasize; it’s deadly. ¹⁴
- Caused by intense intermittent UV that leads to sunburn. ¹⁵
- 20-30% of melanomas develop from existing moles and 70-80% arise on seemingly normal skin. ¹⁶
- DESCRIPTION OF MELANOMA ¹⁷:
- FOLLOW THE ABCDEs of MELANOMA DETECTION
- Asymmetry: the shape of one half of the mole does not match the other half
- Borders: uneven edges that may appear scalloped or notched
- Color: varied shades of brown,tan or black and can progress to red, white and blue
- Diameter: 6mm or larger
- Evolution: the mole has changed characteristics over the past few weeks or months.
Example of Melanoma
FOLLOW THE ABCDEs of MELANOMA DETECTION:
WHAT IS ACTINIC KERATOSES?
Actinic keratoses is a precancerous lesion. If left untreated, 10% or more may turn into Squamous Cell Carcinoma. ¹⁸
DESCRIPTION OF ACTINIC KERATOSES ¹⁹:
- Rough, scaly patches that appear pink, white, or tan
- Crusty patches and red bumps
- Protruding sores, cracks with dried blood
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF SKIN CANCER? ²⁰
- Too much sun exposure: unprotected or excessive UV exposure
- Weakened immune system
- Many moles
- Tanning beds
- Fair skin, light eye color
- Frequent childhood sunburn
- Exposure to chemicals
- Living near the equator or at higher elevations
Remember, this is the only skin you’ve got. If you see something that doesn’t look right to you, go and get it checked out by your primary care physician or dermatologist, as soon as possible.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF YOUR SKIN AND YOURSELF.
Jenni, the aesthetic RN + RaVina Labs Family
¹ Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics. (2021, January 13) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts/
² Layers of the Skin. U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. (2008, September, 20) https://training.seer.cancer.gov/
³ Squamous Cell Carcinoma Overview. (2019, May) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/squamous-cell-carcinoma/
⁴ Actinic Keratosis. (2020) https://www.almirall.com/your-health/your-skin/skin-conditions/actinic-keratosis/about-actinic-keratosis
⁵ Layers of the Skin. U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. (2008, September, 20) ://training.seer.cancer.gov/>.
⁶ Skin Cancer 101 Knowledge is your best defense. (2021, January) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/#basal
⁷ Skin Cancer 101 Knowledge is your best defense. (2021, January) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/#basal
⁸ Skin Cancer 101 Knowledge is your best defense. (2021, January) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/#basal
⁹ About Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer. (2021, January) https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/CRC/PDF/Public/8818.00.pdf
¹⁰ Squamous Cell Carcinoma Overview. (2019, May) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/squamous-cell-carcinoma/
¹¹ Squamous Cell Carcinoma Risk Factors. (2019, May) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/squamous-cell-carcinoma/scc-causes-and-risk-factors/
¹² Squamous Cell Carcinoma Overview. (2019, May) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/squamous-cell-carcinoma/
¹³ Melanoma Overview, A Dangerous Skin Cancer. (2021, January) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/
¹⁴ Skin Cancer Foundation Store. (2021)
¹⁵ Skin Cancer Foundation Store. (2021) https://store.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-101-poster/
¹⁶ Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics. (2021, January 13) https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts/
¹⁷ What to look for: ABCEDs of Melanoma. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/find/at-risk/abcdes
¹⁸ Skin Cancer Foundation Store. (2021) https://store.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-101-poster/
¹⁹ Skin Cancer Foundation Store. (2021) https://store.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-101-poster/
²⁰ Risk Factors. (2019, June) https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/