Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can blisters from a sunburn lead to melanoma?"
How do sunburns cause melanoma? Is it the blister part or the sunburn part? I have a sunburn that looks pretty bad right now.
Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer that arises from the pigment producing cells of the skin called melanocytes. Melanoma typically initially (but not always) looks like a mole and then spreads. Sun damage to the skin to the skin predisposes to developing melanoma because the sun causes damage to and mutations within the melanocytes, making them more likely over time to turn into melanoma. In other words, the blisters from sunburn themselves do not heighten the risk of sunburn, except in the sense that if you have blistered from a sunburn this means it was a very serious sunburn. Serious sunburns, especially if you have many of them, greatly increase your risk later in life of melanoma and all other types of skin cancer also. In the future it will be very important for you to take care of your skin. You should always wear sunscreen when you are in the sun, and you should never remain long enough in the sun that you burn. In addition to cancer risk, sun burns also cause premature aging of the skin. Talk to your primary care doctor for more information about preventing skin cancer. Also talk to your doctor if the sunburn is very painful or if the blistering is extensive, as this may require medical attention.
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