Skin Cancer and Aging: Know Your Risks

Mature woman sun hat Skin cancer affects individuals of all ages, let that be known upfront. However, as you mature and your exposure to the sun continues, you have an increased risk. Stone Oak Dermatology is here to give you the insights you need to minimize your risk for skin cancer as you get older.

Why Does Old Age Increase My Risk for Skin Cancer?

There are a handful of factors that play into the connection between age and skin cancer risk. The first is the amount of exposure you’ve had to the sun over the years. It’s a simple point, but it’s true. The more exposure you have to the sun’s rays, whether it’s gradually over the years or short periods, your risk for skin cancer increases. And the more sunburns you’ve had in your life also contribute to your risk level. The more your skin has been burned by the sun, the less ability it has to recover from more damage without developing skin cancer. And this follows the same line of thought of your body slowing down as you get older. Your immune system isn’t as good, and your body’s natural defenses and ability to recover typically become weaker. All of this can lead to more sensitivity to the sun’s rays and thus lead to skin cancer.

Older adults who have undergone organ transplants can be particularly vulnerable due to their compromised immune systems. Just as you would be more sensitive to illnesses, your body also will be more sensitive to factors like the sun’s rays. 

What Can I Do About It?

As always, the best prevention for skin cancer is taking care of your skin. Avoid overexposure to the sun, wear sunblock, and monitor your skin regularly, as these steps can all help reduce your risk of skin cancer.

With that being said, you should always monitor your body for changes. When examining your skin, you want to seek out moles or blemishes that are nonstandard. All blemishes look a little different, but moles especially typically have a round border and are no more than a few shades darker than your skin tone. With that being said if you ever find one that has jagged edges or is a weird color such as purple, blue, or even red/pink, it is important to have it checked. From there, it is also important to acknowledge your age and the overall health of your skin. Ensuring you have various creams or vitamins on hand to keep your skin hydrated and healthy can also be a major benefit to your skin’s overall health. And the great thing about these factors is that you don’t have to do guesswork or do the research on your own. Whether it’s your primary care physician or us here at Stone Oak Dermatology, we can help you maintain your skin and stay as far away from skin cancer as possible.

Building off of that, typical visits to a dermatologist for a routine skin cancer screening usually take place once a year. As you get older, we highly encourage making at least one skin check appointment a year and more frequently if you are more susceptible to skin cancer. Those who have fair skin, have had skin cancer before, or are immunocompromised may need to schedule more than two annual screenings. 

If you have any concerns about your skin or potential risk for skin cancer, contact us today. At Stone Oak Dermatology, we are here to be your resource for maintaining your skin’s health and giving you the peace of mind you deserve. You can reach us at 210-494-0504 to schedule an appointment at our San Antonio, TX, location.

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