We all like to find a secure home, although there are still risks which deserve our attention.
The role home environment can play in dermatological conditions has been widely studied, with eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea often to the fore. Effects related to skin cancer may be less obvious but still matter.
Activity in the home is less of a risk to health than historically. The days of work at home involving dangerous chemicals, or living with asbestos are vanishing, although not every substance is as safe as we may believe.
A few common chemical issues will be covered, but exposure to UV rays is a greater skin cancer risk, including during time at home.
Indoor Sun Exposure
An obvious safety measure is not to use sunbeds, or lamps in your home. A respected European study demonstrated that 40 hours of sunbed use resulted in a 55% increased risk of melanoma, along with other skin cancers.
The sun still shines through window glass and this has a split effect, UVB is largely excluded, whereas UVA passes through unhindered. This may sound like half a solution but research has suggested otherwise.
Outdoor workers are on average exposed to three times as much sun as indoor workers, yet they have a slightly lower incidence of skin cancer. This is not a reason to rush out for more sun exposure but the science is interesting.
Vitamin D is made by UVB rays hitting our skin and the lack of exposure indoors can see levels drop. Whilst still to be fully confirmed, the belief is that depletion of vitamin D stops melanoma cells from creating a hormone which prevents them growing.
The UVA rays can in any event cause damage and sticking protective film to home windows may seem tempting. Accepting that sitting at sunny windows for long periods is not good and a rational time outside is beneficial will help.
Substances At Home
Organic compounds such as benzene, other solvents, or hydrocarbons, or heavy metals can degrade the skin. Easy to feel that legislation would make all products safe but a range of
pesticides, paints, thinners and cleaning solvents can hold risk.
Apart from a direct effect, UVA and pollutants can combine to increase the risk of skin cancer. Through depletion of potentially protective vitamin E and the generation of reactive oxygen species, which may cause DNA damage.
We would all wish to avoid obvious dangers in the home, such as lead, arsenic, or secondary smoke and should be careful with less obvious chemicals.
Read labels and follow directions, create a well ventilated environment, or work outdoors if possible. Wear gloves, possibly wider protection, if you cut, or scrape your skin, clean the area immediately with soap and warm water.
Evidence continues to emerge that chemicals can work in different ways to increase the chance of developing cancer, respiratory, or cardiac diseases. Being careful, or substituting for less toxic alternatives protects our health.
This can be thought of as similar to sound hygiene, to prevent infections, a step we would all take. Avoiding excessive sun indoors deserves the same consideration, when we would make an effort to do so outside.
Your home is there to provide comfort and protection, to be enjoyed. There is no reason not to do so but extra thought is worthwhile.
Our clinic provides fine skin cancer treatment and vital early diagnosis but all the better if you can avoid a need for either. Please relax at home, just consider that actions there affect our health as elsewhere.