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Are there healthy tans and what are the first signs of skin cancer?


Experts warn: There is no such thing as a healthy tan
Sunshine, beach and sea: These three things are simply part of a perfect vacation for many people. It is often "sizzled" in the heat until there are unpleasant skin reactions such as sunburn, allergies or even skin cancer. Various diseases can arise from the sun, so proper protection is essential. In an interview with the news agency "dpa", experts clarify the dangers and give tips on which warning signs to look out for.

The skin accumulates damage over years
Many people underestimate the dangers posed by the sun. Light-skinned people in particular usually get sunburned quickly and therefore have a particularly high risk of skin cancer. What many do not know: The skin “remembers” the damage that has occurred over the years. "If there is enough damage, the repair of the cells will no longer work effectively - this will lead to cancer growth," explains the medical coordinator at the Mannheim Skin Tumor Center, Jochen Sven Utikal. Childhood sunburns and visits to solariums are considered risk factors. "To be tanned is still an ideal of beauty - there is no such thing as a healthy tan," emphasizes senior physician Jessica Hassel from the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg. If the skin shows a tan, this is already a sign of damage, the expert continues. An important indication that the next time you should pay attention to more protection.

Black skin cancer can develop all over the body
If black skin cancer has developed, sufferers usually have little discomfort at the beginning. “You just see a birthmark that has changed,” explains Utikal. With white skin cancer there would be small growths on the skin such as a nodule on the face. According to the expert, the skin changes could bleed and itch in both cases. The form, also known as "light skin cancer", develops primarily in the regions of the body that are often exposed to the sun. The particularly aggressive, malignant black skin cancer ("malignant melanoma"), on the other hand, can develop anywhere on the body - even in places where the sun can hardly get, such as on the scalp or under the toenails and fingernails. The chest and back in men and the lower leg in women are particularly often affected.

Increase in cancer cases in young women
In comparison to white skin cancer, malignant melanoma occurs very rarely. "With black skin cancer, we assume 22 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year," says specialist Uwe Reinhold from the Dermatological Center Bonn Friedensplatz. People between the ages of 18 and 30 and in their mid-50s are particularly affected, and there has also been an increase in young women in recent years. In the light variant, the expert assumes up to 400 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year. This develops more often in men who are at increased risk due to hair loss or a job in the open air, Reinhold told the “dpa”.

More than half of those affected cannot be helped in the long term
Black skin cancer is particularly nasty because, according to Utikal, it spreads from a millimeter of tumor thickness and thus e.g. Can affect the lymph nodes, lungs and brain. Here it continues to grow and can attack vital structures. In the advanced stage, the disease is therefore very difficult to treat, explains Jessica Hassel. "It also takes a little bit of luck to be one of those who can do it in the long term," said the senior doctor. According to the expert, the spread of black skin cancer can now be brought under long-term control due to medical developments in around 35 percent of patients. At the same time, this also means that more than 50 percent of the patients cannot be helped in the long term. "We can at best extend your life there," continues Hassel. As a result, many sufferers die, and malignant melanoma is the second most common cause of death among 18 to 30-year-olds, Reinhold adds.

Functional restrictions due to white skin cancer
Light skin cancer, on the other hand, scatters very rarely with an intact immune system and therefore does not have to be fatal if it is detected early. However, this form should not be underestimated either because many operations are usually necessary, which severely limits the quality of life of the patients. "Mostly these are places exposed to the sun, such as the nose or ears, and this can be associated with functional restrictions," continues Reinhold. Disfigurements are also possible if multiple tumors also require surgery.

If white skin cancer is discovered very early, drug tumor therapy in the form of a cream is possible. “There is also photodynamic therapy, in which you treat with cream and light. In the case of a more advanced tumor, surgery is the treatment of choice, ”explains Uwe Reinhold. According to the expert, those who develop black skin cancer cannot avoid surgery right from the start. If it is too late for this because the tumor has already spread, new immunotherapies can be used. "This way you can try to ensure that the patient lives well for as long as possible," explains Utikal from Mannheim.

Early detection is particularly important
The chances of a cure depend on how early the disease is discovered and treated. According to the experts, patients with white skin cancer have very good chances that after surgery they would be almost 100 percent for the individual tumor. According to Reinhold, there is a 93 percent chance of cure for black skin cancer in the early stages, but waiting too long would reduce it to less than 50 percent. But even an advanced illness can now be treated much better thanks to new therapies.

Sun allergy: itchy skin changes due to unusual radiation exposure
If you like to spend hours on the beach on vacation, you can quickly develop a so-called “sun allergy”. This skin reaction, known as “polymorphic light dermatosis” in medicine, occurs when people with sensitive skin are exposed to unusually high UV-A and / or UV-B radiation. As a result, skin changes occur, especially in areas that are particularly often exposed to the sun, such as Neck and décolleté, arms, legs and face. However, it usually takes a few hours or even days after sunbathing until itchy, reddish wheals or specks, skin burns, or even pain on the affected area.

In order to treat polymorphic light dermatosis effectively, UV radiation should primarily be avoided or appropriate protection should always be taken into account. Here a sunscreen with a very high sun protection factor (at least 50) is recommended, and those affected should also protect themselves with a hat and covering clothing. In the case of an acute reaction, a cream with so-called "corticoids" (e.g. hydrocortisone) can help, antihistamines are often used against the strong itching.

Mallorca acne gives rise to unsightly pimples
A special form of light eruption is the so-called "Mallorca acne" (Acne aestivalis), which is a very unpleasant burden for many vacationers. It arises in people with the appropriate disposition through the combination of UV radiation, the body's own sebum fats and certain ingredients from cosmetics or sunscreens. The interaction of these factors creates an inflammation on the hair follicles, which leads to small pimples and pustules - similar to acne. The skin changes usually persist for several weeks, with rashes on the face being rather rare. Instead, Mallorca acne occurs more frequently on the skin areas on the shoulders, upper back or in the cleavage. Unlike "real" acne, however, no purulent inflammation forms - but sufferers suffer from the extremely itchy rash.

The only remedy here is the rigorous avoidance of sun and adequate protection of the affected parts of the body so that the skin can recover. Over-the-counter cortisone gels or antihistamines can relieve the itching sensation, they also work against the inflammatory reaction and can thus cause the unpleasant pustules. Under no circumstances should those affected press or scratch the pimples, as this only worsens the symptoms. (No)

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Video: How to prevent skin cancer (December 2021).