11. Dry and Chapped Lips
Chapped lips are a regular occurrence during cold, inclement weather. But they could also be a symptom of actinic cheilitis, which is a pre-cancerous condition that renders the lips dry and chapped. Dr. Knackstedt elaborates that if this type of sun damage is detected early on, the changes to the lips can be addressed and reversed with the cautious use of sun protection and sunscreen.
Crucially, actinic cheilitis can progress to squamous cell carcinoma of the lip if left untreated. People who are exposed to the sun a lot and have a lesion on the lip that does not heal or bleeds must get it evaluated by a doctor.
10. A Stubborn Pimple
According to Bradley Bloom, MD, a dermatologist at Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists, it is important to keep an eye on a pimple that does not go away. He elaborates that a number of patients come to see him with the complaint that a pimple won’t heal or that it starts to bleed.
On further investigation, the pimple turns out to be a manifestation of basal cell carcinoma, which is a common type of skin cancer. Dr. Bloom is a specialist in Mohs micrographic surgery and encounters such cases frequently. He elaborates that Mohs surgery is a convenient solution in such cases with low rates of recurrence.
9. A Persistent Scaly Patch
Though it is common to experience flaky and dry skin during the winter, Dr. Bloom recommends that patients should be aware of scaly patches that are persistent or recurring. Dr. Bloom explains that while this could most likely be eczema, it could also turn out to be actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous lesion created by sun damage, specifically UV rays.
These lesions are initially noticed as rough patches of skin on areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the lips, the back of the hands, a bald scalp, or the face. Dr. Bloom encourages patients to use an SPF lotion all the time to prevent severe sun damage and to have these lesions addressed before they turn into a more serious condition. Be mindful of more discreet places that could be affected by skin cancer but are not easily visible.