A Higher Risk of Skin Cancer if you Have IBD?
While I work hard to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information at the time of publishing, as time passes some information may no longer be relevant or accurate. The field of medicine is a constantly evolving science and art. Thankfully! In 1951 a woman was given a lobotomy to treat her ulcerative colitis. That wasn't even that long ago!
Is there a higher risk of getting skin cancer if you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis? So happy you asked! Here is what you need to know about Inflammatory Bowel Disease and skin cancer risk.
What to know about IBD and skin cancer
People who have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to the general public. The good news is that it’s only a slight increase in risk and there are actionable steps you can take to protect yourself.
What is the Risk?
What You Can Do
- You should see a dermatologist yearly to have your skin checked for skin cancer. Your doctor may recommend a different interval of time in-between check ups. All you have to do is ask them!
- If you notice any spots or discolorations on your skin that are new, changing, won’t heal, itch, or bleed, you should bring it up to your doctor right away.
- Learn how to check your skin monthly here!
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for patients who are immune suppressed. This is what I use on my face. It’s pricey, I know, but it’s the best I’ve found so far for how makeup applies and looks over it so I thought I’d recommend it in case that is a problem for you as well. For the rest of my body I just use cheap drug store stuff. It is recommended to use 2 tablespoons half an hour before you go out in the sun.
- You should seek shade, especially between 10AM and 4PM.
- Wear sunglasses, broad brimmed hats, and sleeves to protect your skin.
- It should go without saying but you should definitely avoid using tanning beds.
- See this page for more information.
Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
It’s important people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have their vitamin D levels monitored regularly. It’s not uncommon for patients to have low vitamin D levels which are associated with increased risk of clinical relapse and increased disease activity. The sun can be a good source of vitamin D but it’s important to seek safer methods of maintaining your vitamin D level. The safest way of getting vitamin D is through your diet but you may need to use a supplement. My doctor has one that he prescribes for me but I’ve also seen GI’s recommend an OTC version.
This post was edited on 1/8/2020 for appearance, grammar, and clarity, as I transfer my site from Tumblr to WordPress and rebrand Inflamed & Untamed