Sun damage is a very serious issue that must be addressed by every individual. Sun damage can discolor skin and even cause skin cancer, making it imperative that individuals care for and protect their skin against harsh sunlight. While preventing sun exposure and potential damage is possible, it does not eliminate the need to visit a dermatologist about sun damage. Below are a few examples of when it is time to visit a dermatologist about potential sun damage.
Light Skin with a History of Sunburns
Individuals with lighter colored skin or sensitive skin are more prone to experiencing severe sunburns than individuals with darker colored or less sensitive skin. If you have lighter colored skin and are extremely prone to sunburns regardless of using sunscreen and avoiding prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, you should visit a dermatologist to see what damage has been done to your skin by your previous sunburns. While your dermatologist may not be able to reverse previous damage, she might be able to provide suggestions in avoiding future damage and assist you in keeping an eye on your skin to identify and treat potential cancerous spots.
Any individual that has experienced sunburn that has turned to blisters, the top layers of skin peeling off or other serious effects should visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist will be able to assess and treat any remaining damage as needed as well as advise you on how to prevent future similar occurrences. Most likely, your dermatologist will request that you return for periodic evaluations every few months to make sure that your skin does not develop cancerous spots and heals properly.
New or Oddly Shaped Moles Appearing
If your skin suddenly develops new or oddly shaped moles, these could be indications that you have skin cancer. You should immediately contact a dermatologist to have a biopsy done to see if the moles contain cancerous cells. Discolored moles or moles without hair follicles in them are other types of moles that warrant investigation.
At a minimum, you should visit a dermatologist once a year to have your body inspected for moles that your dermatologist believes need to be tested. Most dermatologists will charge a minimal fee for this visit, but such cost is more than worth it when it can prevent cancer from developing unchecked.
Sun spots are dark spots on your skin that develop as a result of excessive or prolonged sun exposure. These spots will not disappear on the own, which differentiates them from other types of spots that will appear on your skin as you age. A sudden development or an increase in the number of sun spots is an indication that your skin has suffered damage and that it should be check by a dermatologist. While many people develop harmless sun spots, do not overlook their importance, particularly if they appear suddenly and are quite dark.
Age and Family History
Individuals 50 years of age and older with a family history of skin cancer should visit a dermatologist, particularly if they have exposed their skin without protection to sun at any time in the past. A dermatologist will perform a general check on the moles and other spots that might be cancerous, and if necessary, run tests on these spots to determine if they contain cancerous cells.