May marks Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Fortunately, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, and so this month is important to highlight the dangers of skin cancer and tips to protect your skin. It is so critical to detect lesions early so that the appropriate treatment can be sought.
As an Aesthetic Practitioner, it is my job to educate all my patients on the dangers of UV radiation and the easy ways you can protect yourself.
To enjoy the sun safely, follow the 5 S’s in sun safety.
When the UV index forecast reaches level 3 or above;
- SLIP on a t-shirt to cover the shoulders as they burn easily
- SLOP on a quality, broad spectrum sunscreen (factor 30 upwards) to exposed skin
- SLAP on a wide brimmed hat to shade face, neck and ears
- SLIDE on quality sunglasses to protect the eyes
- SHADE – seek shade where possible, especially in peak UV hours (11am-3pm)
It’s very important to check your skin and if you notice any changes or new lesions, speak to Dr Amrita Bhogal or your GP.
Superficial Spreading Melanoma is by far the most common skin cancer, accounting for up to 70% of cases. Most commonly, they appear as a new spot, or an existing spot/freckle which changes in colour/size/shape.
The ‘ABCDE of Melanoma’ is a simple screening tool to help you assess and see if your lesion needs further investigation. However, I would always get it checked if you have any concerns.
Asymmetry – one half looks different to the other
Border – edges are uneven, ragged or blurred
Colour – changes in colour, particularly to red, blue and black
Diameter – where greater than 6mm (however, some serious lesions can be smaller)
Evolving – changes in size/colour/sensation to a new or existing mole
At AKB Aesthetics, we recommend a range of SPFs which will give you quality protection against UV radiation. You need to be protected against both UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreens are not just for holiday, you must wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, 365 days of the year.
AlumierMD have 6 different SPFs to choose from. All are lightweight and non-comedogenic, some are available in a lovely tinted colour meaning you can have those ‘make-up free days’. Other popular choices include sunscreens from Obagi and Cellderma. Dr Amrita can help you decide which SPF is best for your skin type and skin conditions.
Sunbeds are a big NO – they give out UV rays that increase your risk of developing skin cancer (both melanoma and non-melanoma). Indoor tanning increases your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 58% and basal cell carcinoma by 24%. Most sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun. The risks are greater for younger people. There is no such thing as a safe tanning bed.
Other risks associated with exposure to UV rays include premature ageing of the skin, signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis and solar elastosis.
If you would like to see the damage under the visible layer of your skin, a skin analysis using our scanner can be quite an eye opening experience. A lot of the damage caused by the sun goes through to the deeper layers of the skin that we can’t see. As we age, we will see the resulting damage come through, like accelerated ageing, wrinkles, pigmentation and of course, skin cancer.