Sunburn and Sun Poisoning (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Sunburn facts
- What is sunburn?
- Can sunburn cause permanent damage?
- What is UV light and where are UV rays most intense?
- Why does the skin tan after exposure to UV rays?
- What are the symptoms of sunburn?
- What are the symptoms of severe sunburn (sun poisoning)?
- Sunburn pictures
- What first-aid measures should be taken with sunburn?
- What is the treatment for sunburn?
- Are there any home remedies to treat sunburn?
- Is a follow-up visit with a physician necessary?
- Who is most susceptible to sunburn?
- Can diseases cause a heightened sensitivity to UV rays?
- Can medications increase sensitivity to sunburn?
- What kinds of skin cancer can UV rays cause?
- How can sunburn and skin cancer be prevented?
- How do sunscreens work?
- What is SPF?
- What is the best way to apply sunscreen?
- Do sunscreens expire?
- Can antioxidants protect against sunburn?
- Summer Skin Hazards FAQs
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What kinds of skin cancer can UV rays cause?
Overexposure to UV rays can cause three varieties of skin cancer; malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
- Malignant melanoma is by far the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
- The current lifetime risk of developing a melanoma is approximately 2%.
- Melanomas may begin from changes in a pre-existing mole or birthmark, or arise as a new mole from otherwise clear skin (de novo).
- Multiple features are more common in melanomas versus regular moles including asymmetry, irregular borders, multiple colors, and size larger than a pencil eraser.
- Melanomas may be black or brown - and sometimes red, white, or blue, or a mixture of those colors.
- Melanoma can spread (metastasize) rapidly. If diagnosed early, melanoma is often curable. If the diagnosis is delayed, melanoma can spread and may be potentially fatal.
Basal and squamous cell carcinomas
Basal and squamous cell cancers are slow-growing and are far less likely to metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) than melanoma. Both basal and squamous cell cancers can be cured in at least 90 percent of the cases if diagnosed early.
Basal cell carcinoma
- Basal cell carcinomas are flattened, pearly, small bumps with translucent edges and slightly depressed centers.
- They may bleed.
- Usually, they appear on the head, neck, upper trunk, and hands.
- If ignored, these cancers can cause considerable localized damage.
Squamous cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinomas are rough patches or crusty scaly areas on the skin that do not clear up and do not respond to the usual skin creams.
- They may bleed a little.
- They tend to appear particularly on the ear rims, face, lower lip, and hands.
- If ignored, they can spread to other parts of the body.
These conditions are very common and if diagnosed properly and promptly, they are highly curable. It is very important to have routine skin checks by a skin doctor (dermatologist) annually. Annual screening can help in early diagnosis of skin cancer or pre-cancerous conditions that may lead to skin cancer.
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