πŸ”† May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Early detection saves lives.

As a MASCED accredited professional, I want to share some skin health information with you so you can be aware and in control of your skin care. Early detection of skin cancer saves lives.

There are 2 types of skin cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but you should get anything usual checked out by a doctor. The MySkinDoctor app can connect you to a consultant dermatologist.

Skin cancer doesn’t care how old you are, what gender you are, or what colour your skin is. All types of skin can be damaged by UltraViolet Radiation (the stuff that comes from the sun… and sun beds!) however you may be more at risk if:

  1. You have fair skin and burn easily
  2. You use sunbeds
  3. You have a history of sunburn
  4. You spend a lot of time outdoors
  5. You have prolonged exposure to UV rays (mature skin with years accumulation of UV damage)
  6. You have over 100 moles over your whole body
  7. You have a family history of skin cancer or melanoma

UltraViolet (A, B & C) Radiation

There are 3 types of UV rays emitted from the sun; UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA rays penetrate the skin and are known to be responsible for premature skin ageing as well as contributing to burning and skin cancer. UVB rays penetrate the outer layer of skin; they are known to be the ones that burn the skin and therefore are the leading cause of sunburn and skin cancer. UVC rays are absorbed by the Ozone layer, so don’t really affect us.

UV radiation cannot be seen or felt. It can pass through a cloud and reflect from surfaces so just because the temperatures may not be high, don’t think you are not at risk from UV damage.

There are some benefits of UV radiation; UVB radiation is the most efficient way for our bodies to boost Vitamin D supply, “Vitamin D is important for regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases”, overexposure to UVB rays, however, can pose a serious health risk.

Ways to protect against skin cancer

  • Cover up πŸ‘• wear clothing that covers up areas that are particularly susceptible to burning, i.e. shoulder
  • Wear sunscreen πŸ§΄ At least factor 30 (SPRF 30+) with a star rating of AT LEAST 4
  • Wear a hat πŸ§’ that provides shade for your face, neck and shoulders
  • Wear sunglasses πŸ˜Ž to protect your eyes – make sure they have tested UV protection
  • Seek shade β›±οΈ where possible – especially when the UV it at its peak (between 11am and 3pm)

Early detection

If you notice any changes with your skin, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible, the sooner a skin cancer is detected and treated, the better the outcome.

What to look out for:

  • A new mole or lesion on the skin;
  • changes in the appearance (size, colour, shape), texture (elevated, firm, bumpy) and feel (itchy, irritated, sore) of a mole; or
  • if a new mole/spot/lesion becomes itchy, painful, inflamed, bleeding or becomes crusty

Melanoma can also appear on the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and under your nails. Look out for any discoloured patches on your skin or under your nails or unusual dark bands under your nails that may slowly expand, or cause cracking and/or bleeding.

This information is not intended to scare you, it is to provide you with the knowledge to be in control so you can seek medical care as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.