Minimizing & Protecting Your Melanoma Scar from the Sun

There are two types of skin cancer, nonmelanoma and melanoma. nonmelanoma is skin cancer that forms in the lower part of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) or in squamous cells, but not in melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment). Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer. It is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body than other types of skin cancer. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They are nonmelanoma skin cancers. Nonmelanoma skin cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Once melanoma is diagnosed, your physician will discuss your treatment options. In early stages, melanomas can often be treated with surgery. In cases where the melanoma becomes more advanced cancers often require other treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. There are instances where more than one treatment may be used.

Surgery to remove the cancer requires the removal of the melanoma as well as some of the normal tissue surrounding it. In every case, this will leave a scar and immediate treatment and protection of the area is paramount when trying to minimize the scar. 

Scars have only 20% the strength of normal skin. So it is important to limit the stresses to the skin and surrounding area. Most are red/pink in appearance due to the increased blood vessel growth. Increased blood vessel growth is needed in order for the skin to heal. Areas such as the chest, shoulders, and back can become hypertrophic or keloidal due to the tension that occurs across the two sides of skin brought together to close a wound. These scars can take 1 to 2 years to fully heal.

Protecting yourself from the suns harmful UV rays is important. Besides limiting yourself from sun exposure, there are two methods of protecting your skin from the suns harmful UV rays. Lotions and topical ointments are SPF rated. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is the rating you’re familiar with for sunscreens and other sun-protective products. It measures the amount of time it takes for sun-exposed skin to redden. Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches the skin. Lotions should be at least 30 spf and reapplied every 2 hours, or more often if swimming or perspiring. Both SPF and UPF measures should be part of your outdoor planning no matter what. Exposure to sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces, and it can lead to much more serious consequences, including skin cancer. If you have had a surgery to remove melanoma and are planning to spend time outdoors, you need to be aware that the sun effects scarred skin a lot quicker. Never directly expose your scar to sunlight. Make sure your scar is very well protected from sunlight when you go outside or sunbathe. This applies to all kinds of scars. If exposed to the sun scars will heal darker in color than the surrounding healthy skin. When scarred skin is bombarded with UV rays the bodies natural defense is to thicken the area that is being negatively effected in order to provide protection.

Hy-Tape is a great solution to protecting scars or areas where a wound may still be present. If the scarred skin is still very pink and sensitive, we recommend placing a piece of gauze cut to size over the area, then covering it with Hy-Tape as our tape has been tested and granted UPF 50+ status. We recommend that the area be clean, dry, and without any lotion or skin prep. If the affected area is healed enough whereas the skin is not too thin and has been allowed time to heal, then Hy-Tape is safe to apply directly onto the scar. Hy-Tape is infused with zinc oxide and releases gently from the skin with our causing trauma or irritation to the skin.

It is still best to consult with a professional about the right time to apply our tape to a scarred area. After a consulting with your physician you may carefully exposure your scar to the sun, or once it is light pink and barely visible. Regardless of the situation, always use at least a factor 30 spf lotion and protect yourself with UPF rated clothing and or surgical tape. You must also consider your skin type. The lighter your skin, the more cautious you need to be. 

Hy-Tape now has three roll packs of tape that make it convenient for patients that do not require a large tube of tape. We offer 5 different widths.In most cases 1.5 inch tape is sufficient.