Who doesn’t like going to the beach on a sunny day or having a spontaneous water fight in the backyard during the summer? But before you march out into the sun, take this necessary precaution: sunscreen. Yes, although it may seem cumbersome to lather on sunscreen lotion, it might just save you a scary trip to the doctor and protect your skin from aging too soon! However before you buy just any sunscreen lotion consult an expert on the matter.
“Most conventional sunblocks with UVA and UVB filters only protect our skin from 7% of the sun’s rays,” reveals consultant dermatologist, Justine Hextall. Infrared-A, which makes up 30 % of the sun rays damaging affects can cause loss of elastin, collagen in the skin leading to sagging and broken veins. “You can protect against four times more of the sun’s damaging rays with Infrared-A protection,” adds Dr Hextall.
“Always seek medical advice if you have any skin concerns,” stresses Dr Almaani. “Your GP can then refer you to a dermatologist if they’re uncertain.”
If you have lots of moles or a personal or family history of melanomas, you might require a procedure called mole mapping, which is a full-body mole analysis.
People have survived skin cancers and lived to tell the tale. Sue Deans, a 69-year-old retired teacher and mother of three, has had malignant melanoma twice. “I was part of the generation where package holidays became affordable in the 70s and you could go abroad nearly every year. She was first diagnosed back in 2000 after a doctor spotted and removed an abnormal looking mole and then again in 2007 when she found a lump under her armpit. “…now I’m always vigilant in keeping an eye out for anything unusual or persistent that might need to be checked.”
There are two main categories of skin cancer: malignant and non-malignant melanoma. “Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form and about 90% of cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” explains Joanne Upton, skin cancer advanced nurse practitioner at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Merseyside. This form of skin cancer is curable if diagnosed early enough.
On the other hand, malignant melanoma skin cancers can grow very repidly, and be can be fatal in just a mere six week period. Vigilance is the key, because this type of cancer can metastasize (or spread) to other parts of the body. Interestingly enough, this type is not always linked to sun exposure and may have other causal factors such as hereditary or exposure to carcinogenic agents.
“The most common cause of melanoma is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation and sunlight without proper protection,” adds Dr Susan Mayou, a dermatologist at Cadogan Cosmetics . Try avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm, cover up and regularly apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF15 and guards against both UVA and UVB rays.
“UVA penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB – it plays a large part in skin ageing and may even start the development of skin cancers,’ explains Dr Mahto. “UVB is the main cause of sunburn and a key player in the development of skin cancer.”