Every year 2,000 people die from malignant melanoma – that’s 2,000 people whose lives could be saved if they took care of their skin in the sun.
This Sun Awareness Week the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), want you to become more aware of skin cancer and the exposure the sun has on it.
Skin cancer is the second most cancer in 20-39-year-olds, so it’s definitely something that could affect you or someone you know. It’s important that you regularly self-examine yourself for skin cancer and check for new moles and melanomas – do you know how to do that?
Lloydspharmacy's Jo Carey is a qualified healthcare professional who specialises in skin health. She explains:
“Sun damage is a serious health threat, and you should try and avoid it as best you can. Put your sunscreen on at least 30 minutes before you go out in the sun, waiting till you’re on the beach could mean the difference between a healthy glow and burnt sore skin - skin can damage in only a few minutes. Taking other simple measures like avoiding the intense midday sun between 11 and 3pm and regularly applying sunscreen, can help reduce prematurely ageing skin and the risk of skin cancer. Even sun protection with the highest possible protection factors cannot provide 100% protection from UV rays, so in the sun, things like wearing a hat, covering up and sitting in the shade will help to avoid burning. When choosing your sunscreen, always choose a quality cream, ensuring ultimate protection. At LloydsPharmacy we only stock and recommend sunscreens that are SPF15 or above.”
With an estimate of 26% of men and 33% of women actively trying to get a tan, the risk of accidentally burning is extremely high, and sun creams are vital to helping keep you protected.
Warning signs of Melanoma
The easiest way for you to spot melanoma on yourself is keeping check of your skin, looking at moles, brown spots and growths of the skin, and being aware of five signs to look out for. The fact is these moles are usually harmless, but it's important that you're aware of your skin and can recognise any changes, so you can catch things early if it is something a little more sinister.
These are the five signs of melanoma, so be aware of them and if you spot one or more of them, get in touch with your doctor and have them checked as soon as you can.
A warning sign for melanoma is a mole that is not symmetrical if you were to split this mole both halves wouldn't match.
If your mole is benign, it's likely to have a smooth shape to the edge. If your mole is melanoma, the edging is likely to be uneven.
Normal moles are typically just the same colour throughout. If you notice other colours like black, dark brown, red or white appearing this is a warning signal for melanoma.
If you notice that your moles have started to grow in shape, and they're typically larger than other ones, then it's time to get them checked out.
Be aware of other changes that might occur, if they raise up from the skin, they start to bleed, feel itchy all the time, or start to form crusts, it's time to see your doctor.