Photo by Du Truong

Protect yourself from melanoma

I discovered I had a skin cancer recently. Fortunately it was a slow growing carcinoma. The rather innocent looking bump on my ear had been there for a while and I kept ignoring it until Mr Gallivant urged me to get it checked out. Now it has been removed and all is good, I hope.

I have always been pretty careful in the sun. I’m fair skinned and travel a lot so I use high factor sun screens. Having said that, I dread to think how many times I burnt accidentally as a child, and then well into my twenties I optimistically slathered on low factor creams in the hope of getting a glow. I did get one – just not quite the colour I wanted!

Now I’ve decided that sunbathing is really not good for me – and actually I’m pretty happy to sit in the shade with a book instead of sweltering for the sake of a tan. And a girl can always fake it…

Melanoma is a far deadlier type of skin cancer and it is on the up. Rates have doubled in the last twenty years, with 14,000 cases and over 2,200 deaths registered last year. Exposure to sunlight is, unsurprisingly, attributed as a high risk factor. And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just older people who get it. Last year it was the second most common type of cancer diagnosed for 15-49 year olds.

The UK skin cancer charity, Melanoma UK, have provided their top five tips for staying protected in the sun:

Slip, slop, slap

An average body needs a full shot glass size of suncream to covers themselves adequately, around 20 minutes before you go outside. Apply sun cream again after going into water and reapply every 2 hours.

Bin the base tan

The idea of a base tan protecting skin is a myth. The process of acquiring a tan damages the skin, with the skin turning a brown colour to protect itself. Short, sharp sessions on a sun bed can be up to 15 times stronger than the Mediterranean mid-day sun.

Avoid the lobster look

The early evening sun can still be dangerous, especially in countries with warmer climates. Suncream should be applied again after showering or utilise an aftersun that offers sun protection – such as Uvistat After Sun Evening Protect (www.uvuistat.com/uvistatproducts.html#20)

Getting those vitamins 

You only need a brief period of exposure of around 10-15 minutes in the sun to give your body its daily dose of vitamin D.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

Keep a check on our skin and make regular checks – if you notice anything unusual always seek medical advice.

For more information, visit www.melanomauk.org.uk

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