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Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Know Your Risk Factors

skin-cancer-awarenessSkin cancer can be a life-threatening disease if it is not discovered early and treated efficiently. With that being said, at Keys Dermatology we’d like to offer our knowledge of the disease to people during skin cancer awareness month. Below you’ll find risk factors that contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer. Knowing them can help you protect yourself.


The most common occurrence of skin cancer comes from overexposure to sunlight. So much so that this makes up for 90% of the cases of skin cancer. And it isn’t as much exposure as people think. The more often you get sunburned or spend excessive time in the sun, it continues to damage your skin and makes you more susceptible to skin cancer. That’s why it is crucial to use sunblock or sunscreen regularly and be sure to reapply often if you are going to spend a day out in the sun.

Furthermore, when we reference exposure, we also mean to be cautious around various chemicals, including arsenic, industrial tar, coal, and paraffin. Typically, this advice rings more true for people with certain occupations, whether you’re a service provider who works outside all day or someone in the industrial sector. The more you expose your skin to various chemicals or compounds, the more your skin cancer risk may increase. Of course, safety measures are far better than they used to be, but it is still important to keep these things in mind for the sake of your health.


Various lifestyle choices can also affect your susceptibility to skin cancer. One such choice could be that of tanning through the use of sunbeds. While you may assume this is a better method than getting sunlight over time to tan, this is not the case. You are still subjecting your skin to harsh UV rays that increase your risk of skin cancer.

While tanning beds have advanced over the years and are safer than they once were, there is truly no “healthy” tanning bed. They all come with some level of risk to your skin. Some other factors that can affect things are your overall care for your body. Smoking has been documented as slightly increasing your risk for skin cancer. This comes as a shock to some given that they generally affiliate it to lung, mouth, or throat cancers. But it can affect your skin as well. As always, you must use your best judgment and create a lifestyle that aligns with the degree of risk that you are willing to accept.


Unfortunately, some of the risk factors of skin cancer are more unavoidable than being in the sunlight. Your genetics can play a role in terms of how susceptible you are to skin cancer. Namely, this takes the form of your skin tone and if your family members have a history of skin cancer. With skin tone, it comes down to the fact that lighter skin color comes with less melanin and therefore has less pigment to deter the sun's rays from being absorbed into the skin. So, if you have fair skin, you must do your best to use sunblock, find shade, and wear appropriate clothing to avoid being in the sunlight for extended durations.

As for genetics coming from family, it is not the case that you are going to develop skin cancer simply because a parent or grandparent had it. Moreso, if your family has prior experience with this disease, it may mean your family’s genetics are sensitive to the disease. Again, this is another critical factor to keep in mind to keep your skin as safe as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about your skin’s health, please contact us! Keys Dermatology is here for anyone who needs dermatology care. You can call us at 305.664.8828 to schedule an appointment at our Islamorada or Key West, FL, location.

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