Often we hear that being in the sun has given someone a glow and a radiant complexion. Being out in the sun might feel good and there are a few benefits the sun has for our health too. The sun is a natural source of Vitamin D, which is not produced by the body and has to be obtained from outside sources.
However, there is a “darker” side to being out in the sun for too long. Exposure to the sun for prolonged periods of time can lead to a number of diseases and disorders. Exposure to the sun leads to an accelerated process of aging because the sun and the UV rays of the sun cause harm to the elastin fibers of the skin, thus leading to sagging skin, which takes longer to heal. This is called elastosis. Exposure to the sun also leads to freckles, wrinkles, discoloration or pigmentation, small blood vessel dilation, and sallowness. One of the more drastic side effects of prolonged exposure to the sun is skin cancer.
Causative agent for skin cancer and types of skin cancers
As the immunity of the skin decreases after repeatedly being exposed to the sun for long periods of time, cancerous or noncancerous tumors may result. In fact, statistics reveal that skin cancer, benign or malignant, is one of the most commonly found types of cancers in the United States. The ultraviolet radiation of the sun is the main cause of skin cancer.
The three main types of skin cancer are:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Of these, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are more common and less harmful; thus they are likely to be cured and treated completely if detected in time. They are even referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers.
Melanoma is a more severe form of skin cancer, leading to death of the patient 75% of the time. Melanoma derives its name from melanocytes, which are abnormal skin pigment cells found in the tumors. If melanoma is undetected or, worse, untreated, it can be difficult to control because it can spread to other organs as well.
Symptoms of skin cancer
Skin cancer symptoms usually include any changes in the skin, such as discoloration, the appearance of lesions or new moles, or a change in the size of existing moles.
- Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma include a bump on the face, ear, or neck that is smooth in texture, waxy or pearly, but small in size. Other than that, flat lesions can be seen on the arms, legs, and trunk that are red, brown, or pink colored.
- A red-colored firm nodule or flat, scaly, rough lesions that can bleed and become crusty are symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma.
- Melanoma symptoms include a bump or patch that is pigmented, red or white in color. The tumor appears like a mole with an appearance that is irregular, such as:
- A – asymmetrical;
- B – borders are blurred or ragged;
- C – color in an uneven tone of red, black, white, brown, blue, or tan;
- D – diameter is greater than 6mm or more, and the size is changing abnormally;
- E – evolving skin to form new moles that change in size, shape, and color.