A Guide To Checking Your Skin Post Summer
A Guide To Checking Your Skin Post Summer

A Guide To Checking Your Skin Post Summer

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, with at least 1,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It’s common knowledge that exposure to UV rays is one of the biggest risk factors and, given the record temperatures we’ve had here this summer, checking our skin matters more than ever. From what to look out for to the clinics to know, here’s what the experts advise…

First, how will this summer’s warm temperatures have taken their toll on our skin?

“After a summer of heatwaves, people need to be vigilant with SPF and mole checking. Remember, everyone is at risk of skin cancer, so being aware is vital, especially as skin cancers spotted and removed early via surgery are, for the vast majority, curable. If you have got a tan this summer or have noticed more freckles, this is a sign of sun damage – there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Having a tan involves a small degree of sunburn and in order to achieve a tan, you will have burnt your skin, albeit very mildly.” – Dr Ross Perry, dermatologist and founder of Cosmedics

What are the signs our skin has taken the brunt of this summer’s warm weather?

“Hyperpigmentation is the term used for darkening of the skin. It usually shows up in the form of spots or patches, and tends to be caused by sun exposure – these patches are often called age or sun spots, as they are a result of overproduction of melanin (the skin’s natural pigment) in the skin. Other signs of sun-damaged skin include dry and dehydrated skin, broken capillaries (spider veins), dull and tired looking skin, wrinkles and skin laxity.” – Dr Dev Patel, aesthetic doctor and founder of Perfect Skin Solutions

What are the warning signs we should be looking out for?

“Keep an eye on any new moles or freckles that appear on the skin, especially those that are sore or any existing moles that start to change. The best indicator is any asymmetry. It can be helpful to split a mole into four imaginary quadrants. If each quadrant does not look like it belongs to the same mole, that suggests asymmetry and should be examined by an expert. Comparing photos every few months is a useful way of picking up small changes to your moles. If moles do become cancerous, it’s a type of cancer called malignant melanoma. While it’s the least common type of skin cancer, with around 9,000 cases a year in the UK, numbers are rising and it’s the deadliest.” – Dev 

“If you have a mole that is bleeding then it is almost certainly not normal, unless you have merely caught it, or it has been rubbing (such as on a bra strap). Most moles do not spontaneously bleed, so it is vital to get this checked out by your GP. It can also help to look out for ‘the ugly duckling’. Moles tend to look fairly similar to each other, while dangerous ones look noticeably different. If there is a mole that just doesn’t look or behave the same as your others, then that could be a cause for concern and is worth getting checked out.” – Ross 

Look out for ‘THE UGLY DUCKLING’. Moles tend to look FAIRLY SIMILAR to each other, while DANGEROUS ones look NOTICEABLY DIFFERENT.

So, should we only be looking at the shape of our moles?

“Shape matters just as much as colour, diameter and other factors. It can help to use the ABCDE acronym, which is used as a tool for evaluating moles. If a mole shows any of these features, it warrants review by a dermatologist:

Asymmetry: One half of the mole is different from the other.

Border: The mole’s edge is irregular, scalloped or poorly defined. 

Colour: There is uneven colour or variable colours within the mole. Any variation within a single mole is a warning sign – these colours include brown, tan, black, red or blue.

Diameter: The mole is bigger than 6mm in size, or larger than the size of a pencil eraser. However, early melanomas might start out smaller than a quarter of an inch, so don’t discount any that are suspicious yet small.

Evolving: the mole is changing in its size, shape or colour. Also watch out for itchiness, discharge, bleeding or crustiness. – Ross 

Are some people more at risk than others?

“Individuals with a previous history of significant sun exposure, a family history of melanoma or with previous melanomas also benefit from regular dermatological expert surveillance of their moles.” - Ross

What’s the most common mistake women make when checking their moles?

“The majority of women simply don’t check often enough. Living in a country where we wear layers of clothes all year round, it’s not uncommon to see older patients who’ve never even looked at their own skin. Patients in countries where there is more of a beach culture, such as Italy and Australia, are much more aware of their own moles. You should be checking your moles every month or so.” – Amelie Seghers, consultant dermatologist at The Cadogan Clinic 

The majority of women simply DON'T CHECK OFTEN ENOUGH. You should be checking your own moles EVERY MONTH.

If you’re worried, where can you get help?

“You should go to your GP first – although if they do not have the right equipment, such as a dermatoscope, you have every right to ask for a referral to a dermatologist. If you’re self-funding an appointment, you can go straight to see a dermatologist privately. If your GP recommends you have your mole removed for histological diagnosis (i.e., when a pathologist looks at a removed skin specimen with a microscope to ascertain whether it’s benign, precancerous or malignant), then you can have this done on the NHS or privately. If there is a concern that your mole is cancerous, your GP can refer you to the two-week rule clinic, where you will usually be seen within two weeks. If they deem it necessary, they will remove the mole for you. Sometimes, they will recommend monitoring of the mole rather than excision.” – Amelie 

The clinics to know…

Cadogan Clinic: The gold standard of mole checks, the dermatologists at this clinic keep a record of microscopic pictures of your moles so they can track small changes over time. From £250.

Visit CadoganClinic.com

SK:N: If you’re worried about one particular mole, you can get it checked at many SK:N clinics across the UK, while whole-body mole mapping is available in its four London-based clinics and others across the UK. From £50.

Visit SKNClinics.co.uk

Cosmedics: For a top-to-toe examination of your moles, book in at Cosmedics, which has clinics on Harley Street as well as in Putney, the City and South Kensington. Prices from £190 for a full mole check.

Visit Cosmedics.co.uk

One Welbeck: A stone’s throw from Oxford Circus, the experts at this clinic take into account your personal risk factors and sun exposure history before using high-tech 3D imaging to capture microscopic images of your moles. Prices on demand.

Visit OneWelbeck.com

Boots Scanning Service: Worried about one or two moles? Boots’ affordable service scans one mole or pigmented lesion before sending the images to a ScreenCancer dermatology specialist. Not recommended if you have more than four moles to check. Prices from £35 for one mole check.

Visit Boots.com

The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic: To keep track of suspicious moles over time, this clinic’s state-of-the-art computer mapping uses an AI algorithm to assess individual moles and provide a cancer risk analysis. It’s recommended to book in every year for the most accurate results. Prices on demand.

Visit TheHarleyStreetDermatologyClinic.co.uk

For more information visit Cosmedics.co.uk, PerfectSkinSolutions.co.uk and CadoganClinic.com


DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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