Here comes the sun. If you’ve stepped outside of your Melbourne, Florida home this week you may have noticed that spring has fully retreated. Summer is here and the sun is starting to shine even brighter than before. As we make sure our air conditioners are in full working order, it’s also important to understand the risk we take with our oral health every time we step outside. Our lips are under constant attack from UV rays, and most people don’t understand how vulnerable this tissue is on a daily basis. This type of oral cancer is no less risky than any other variation of oral cancer, so it’s important to protect your lips every single day.
How The Sun Damages Your Skin
The sun sends many different wavelengths of light to the earth, most do not cause any harm to human skin at all. However, UVA and UVB rays have been proven to cause skin damage. Skin damage comes in many forms. It can manifest as a sunburn, wrinkles, and most alarmingly as cancer. When skin is exposed to UVA and UVB light, the DNA of our skin becomes damaged. This damage often leads to several forms of cancer.
UVA is the most prevalent ultraviolet ray that makes its way to the earth’s surface. It is widely accepted by skin cancer researchers and scientists as being the UV ray that is responsible for tans, wrinkles, and ageing the skin. The compounded effect of this damage over a lifetime can mutate the skin cells enough that cancer can develop.
UVB rays are much less prevalent than UVA rays in our atmosphere, however they are exponentially more dangerous. This type of light sends intense waves at the outermost layers of skin and is the cause of sunburns and is key in the development of skin cancer. UVB rays are the harshest between 10 am and 4 pm in the United States on average. However, living in Florida – the Sunshine State – certainly means we are exposed to these rays for longer than much of the country. Thankfully the National Weather Service publishes a UV index report every day to inform US citizens of the levels of UV rays at any time of day in any corner of the country. This can help to inform your decision of being out in the sun, and what protective measures to take.
Protecting Your Lips
Many people overlook their lips when they think about oral health, and many people overlook their lips when they are applying sunscreen. These two factors combined can spell trouble for this sensitive tissue. It is extremely important to protect your lips from sun damage. There are many ways you can do this. First, staying out of the sun during peak UV hours will significantly decrease your susceptibility to skin damage. Wearing hats and staying in the shade can also protect your lips from direct UVB and UVA damage. You can also be sure to apply lip balm with an SPF added. SPF acts as a physical barrier that prevents UVA and UVB rays from penetrating your epidermis and causing damage.
Your lips are an important part of your oral health whether you realize it or not. You can do your best to prevent this type of oral cancer this summer by protecting your lips from UVA and UVB rays. If you notice any discoloration, lumps, lesions or pain in your lips that last longer than six weeks, make sure to make an appointment with your Melbourne, Florida dentist as soon as possible. Dr. Brazdo is practiced in screening for oral cancer and will be able to assess your condition and help to determine if oral cancer has developed.
If you have any questions about oral cancer and how to protect your lips this summer, don’t hesitate to ask your Melbourne, Florida dentist. We love to see our patients happy and healthy. Enjoy the sunshine and remember to wear sunscreen – especially on your lips!