Freckles Are A Sign Of Sun Damage
“As essential as the sun is to our bodies, too much of it is also an issue, and freckles may be associated with a healthy summer glow, but this is far from the truth. Freckles are the result of a genetic-induced build-up of melanin pigment in your skin cells. They are more common in fair-skinned individuals, especially those with red hair. In fact, studies show being a redhead is a risk factor for skin cancer. Freckles tend to fade in the winter and increase when the skin is exposed to UV radiation. If you have freckles you will notice they appear on areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun, so if you've noticed more after the summer, this is a sign you’ve had excessive sun exposure in these areas. Whilst freckles don’t tend to turn into skin cancer, they are markers of sun exposure and UV damage in a skin type that is more sensitive to the sun. Having fair skin is thought to increase your risk of skin cancer, so freckles are by no means healthy.” – Dr Anita Sturnham, GP specialising in dermatology
It’s Worth Keeping An Eye On Your Legs & Hands
“Many people tend to spot abnormal moles on holiday, as wearing swimsuits allows for the opportunity to take a closer look at your skin. Melanomas, the most serious form of skin cancer, can appear anywhere on the body but the most common sites for women are on the legs, so make an effort to keep an eye on both the fronts and backs of your legs year-round. Also remember fingernails and toenails, as a melanoma can appear here. If you’ve ever trapped or injured a nail, you will have noticed a dark patch on the nail. A melanoma can appear on a nail and can look similar to this. It can start as a band of pigment at the base of the nail and then as it advances it grows wider and towards the top of the nail.” – Anita
Weighing Up Your Own Risk Factor Is Important
“Around 13,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year, and more than a quarter of skin cancer cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is unusually early compared with most other types of cancer. While it’s important to regularly check your whole body for any signs of melanoma – including hard-to-reach areas such as the buttocks and back – keeping an eye on your arms is a good place to start. In fact, it’s believed people with 11 or more moles on their arm are likely to have over 100 moles on their body – a known risk factor for melanoma.” – Dr Paul Banwell, expert in skin cancer and founder of The Melanoma and Skin Cancer Unit
The Colour Of Your Moles Matters
“When looking at your skin, remember the A-B-C-D-E acronym – asymmetry, border, colour, diameter and evolving – and apply this to your moles. In addition to this acronym, remember the ‘ugly duckling’. This is a strategy based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble each other, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. Ugly ducklings can be bigger, smaller, lighter or darker than the moles around it. While benign moles are usually one single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colours red, white or blue may also appear. Melanomas are usually more than one colour. They may be brown mixed with black, red, pink, white or even a blue tint.” – Paul
Darker Skin Doesn’t Make You Immune
“It may be true that people with fair skin have a higher risk of developing skin cancer than those with darker skin, but skin cancer is still a risk for everyone, regardless of skin colour. We are all exposed to the same environmental risk factors. Unfortunately, it’s common for people with dark skin types to be diagnosed with skin cancer at later stages due to a lack of awareness. The later a diagnosis is made, the more challenging the treatments are due to the risk of spread of the cancer. Skin cancer on black skin often appears in specific parts of the body such as the bottom of the foot, groin, palms of the hands, lower legs and under fingernails or toenails. Close attention should be paid to these areas. Skin cancer on dark skin colours often has a different colour to the surrounding skin and may appear dark brown or black, grey or purple. A cancerous mole may not even have colour – any changes to the skin should be examined by a dermatologist.” – Dr Catherine Borysiewicz, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic
Deal With Sunburn As It Happens
“If you burn your skin in the sun, the focus should be on using products that will calm inflammation and fast-track skin barrier repair. Skin can take several weeks to recover, so avoid using ingredients such as retinoids and fruit acids for a few weeks. If sunburn has happened on your face, use a serum that contains vitamins B, C and E as well as ferulic acid, and follow this with a moisturiser that contains humectant ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerine – this can also be used on your body. Supporting the skin from the inside out is also vital. Take a type-1 marine collagen supplement daily as well as astaxanthin, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to reduce UV damage and stabilise skin pigmentation. I recommend a dose of 6-12mg daily.” – Anita
There’s No Such Thing As A Base Tan
“I’m often asked if having a ‘base tan’ or using sunbeds to ‘prepare’ your skin for your sun holiday helps you to tan safely. Sadly, there is no such thing as a safe tan or a tan that prevents sunburn. When ultraviolet rays from the sun or from a sunbed hit your skin, they damage the DNA of your skin cells. To protect your cells, cells in your skin called melanocytes produce a protective brown pigment called melanin, which gives your skin its tanned colour. In fact, one sunbed session can increase your risk of getting a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%. If you have ever used a sunbed, your risk of melanoma increases by 20% and the more you use them, the higher this risk becomes.” – Anita
A Good Dermatologist Is Worth Their Weight In Gold
“If you’re worried about a mole, it’s important to have a consultation with your GP and ask for a referral to see a dermatologist at the earliest opportunity. The faster you act, the better the outcome. People often feel nervous about having lots of moles and request they are all removed. In reality, it’s important to note that statistically a melanoma is more likely to present as a new lesion on the skin, rather than develop in a pre-existing mole. If you find moles difficult to monitor or have large numbers of them, do seek the advice of a dermatologist and consider monitoring strategies such as mole mapping in addition to your clinical skin checks.” – Catherine
If you are worried about a mole, The Mole Clinic can provide a fast, expert diagnosis, in clinic or online. Visit TheMoleClinic.co.uk for more information.
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