You probably aren’t surprised to learn that your face is one of the most vulnerable areas on your body when it comes to the adverse effects of sun exposure. But did you know that the eyelid area is the among the most common places you can get nonmelanoma skin cancer?
If you’re like many people, you might not have been aware. But when you consider how thin and delicate the skin on your eyelid is, it’s not hard to understand that chronic exposure to the sun can have a harmful impact on your eyelid skin.
At TabanMD, Los Angeles oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Mehryar (Ray) Taban and staff offer simple acts that you can do to prevent facial skin cancer in general and eyelid skin cancer in particular.
Symptoms of Eyelid Skin Cancer
Although eyelid skin cancer is common, and early detection is key to recovery and healthy eyes and/or eyelids, it is not always easy to detect. One reason is that tumors of the eyelid don’t usually grow on the outside of the lid but under the skin before becoming apparent on the skin surface. Furthermore, the typical symptoms of nonmelanoma skin cancer elsewhere (e.g., a sore that never seems to heal, often combined with frequent bleeding) don’t manifest in the same way on the eyelid (usually the development of skin texture or appearance resembling a scar).
However, there are still common symptoms to be aware of:
- Lump or bump that does not disappear
- Lump or bump that bleeds frequently
- Persistent eyelid inflammation
- Sustained eye irritation or red eye
- Inflamed eyelid unresponsive to medication
- Pigmented eyelid lesions with irregular borders
- Ingrown or continued loss of eyelashes
If you experience the above symptoms, especially multiple ones simultaneously, you should schedule a consultation with an oculoplastic surgeon like Dr. Taban.
Protect Your Eyelids from Skin Cancer
Your eyelids cover a small area of your body, yet it’s estimated by the Skin Cancer Foundation that as much as 10% of all skin cancers happen on the eyelids, particularly on the lower eyelid area. And although only around 2% of all eyelid cancers are melanomas and fatalities related to eyelid skin cancer are not common, eyelid skin cancer can still be dangerous.
Skin cancer of the eyelid can cause blindness and/or tissue damage and often spreads into the nasal cavity and the orbital cavity behind the eye. That’s why the risks of getting eyelid skin cancer should not be ignored.
You can choose between various treatments for eyelid skin cancer, but a better way to protect yourself from the disease might be to take preventative steps instead, which are fairly simple, as covered below.
1. The Easy Choice – Sunscreen
Sunscreens and facial creams with sun protection are easy to apply and are effective for reducing the chances of eyelid skin cancer. The problem is that many people forget to apply sunscreen to their eyelids. In fact, a study at the University of Liverpool found that people tend to cover only 90% of their face when applying sunscreen.
One of the most common areas to be missed? The eyelids, usually because people want to avoid getting the lotion or cream in their eyes. Yet, this puts the eyelids at a greater risk of having skin cancer develop.
TabanMD recommends covering your entire face with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and don’t forget to apply to the following areas:
- Inner corners of the eye
- Bridge of the nose
If you’re concerned about the cream or lotion getting into your eyes, a sunscreen stick is a viable option.
2. The Fashionable Choice – Sunglasses
Another way to guard your eyelids against skin cancer is a pair of sunglasses with adequate UV protection. When purchasing them, you want to make sure that they protect your eyes and eyelids from both UVA and UVB rays. Furthermore, this can help reduce eye strain from squinting against the bright sun.
Another aspect of sunglasses to keep in mind is the lens color.
Gray: Reduces brightness while not distorting colors
Yellow: Helps keep depth perception, proper visibility, and good color contrast
Brown: Great color contrast and visibility around solid-color surfaces
Polarized lenses are highly recommended, especially if you’re regularly on or near the water or if you drive a lot in sunny conditions. Finally, it’s also a good idea to obtain sunglasses that sufficiently cover the eyes, eyelids, under the eyes, and the skin surrounding the orbital area.
3. The Practical Choice – Hats
Wide-brimmed hats that offer shade and protection over your eyes are an essential part of any protection strategy. Hats with a brim of three inches minimum can block nearly half of all UVB rays for effective eye and eyelid protection.
4. One Last Choice – Avoiding the Harshest Rays
If possible, avoid spending significant amounts of time outside from 10 am to 3 pm, as this is when the sun’s rays are the harshest and can do the most damage. If you must be outside during these hours, then make sure you wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat as much as possible.
Treatment for Eyelid Skin Cancer
Despite taking preventative steps, you may still get skin cancer of the eyelids, especially if you spend time outdoors a lot. At TabanMD, we offer several different types of treatment, including eyelid skin cancer surgery and Mohs eyelid reconstruction.
Depending on the condition of your eye/eyelid, you may also need extra cosmetic treatment to protect your eye/eyelid and achieve your aesthetic goals. That’s why a consultation with a trained, skilled, and experienced oculoplastic surgeon is so important. Learn more about skin cancer treatments at WebMD.com.
Contact Los Angeles Eyelid Surgeon Dr. Taban to Learn More
Eyelid skin cancer is often a slow-growing type of cancer, but it’s still important to get treatment to protect your entire eye area. For more information, contact TabanMD online or call our Beverly Hills or Santa Barbara locations to set up a consultation.