14 May 2018
Research has shown that more than three million primary care hours are spent on skin conditions, at a cost to the NHS of £723 million each year. This statistic includes long term skin conditions, but there is a worrying escalation in the rates of melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) which has quadrupled in the UK since the 1970's . Over 15,000 new cases of melanoma are discovered every year - that's 42 new cases being diagnosed every day. With more than a third of Brits admitting they’ve been sun burnt, despite the typical assumption that British weather tends to be cloudy, it’s time to get the sun screen out and be skin aware.
With Sun Awareness week taking place from 14 to 20 May, members of the British Association of Dermatologists are taking the opportunity to highlight the dangers of spending too much time in the sun and to be aware of the three types of skin cancer, which all look different.
Here at Spire Dunedin Hospital, Reading, we are encouraging you to take protective action, and learn your skin lesion ‘ABC’ , even on a cloudy but bright day, when the cloud cover or a breeze makes everything feel cooler. Clouds reduce the amount of ultraviolet A and B radiation that reaches the earth's surface and our skin, but don’t stop the rays completely – if the sun is shining your skin is vulnerable to damage.
And it’s not just adults who need to protect their skin. Sun awareness should start young with children encouraged to apply a protective cream or lotion if it’s warm enough for them to be playing out in shorts and tee shirts.
The message is, if you are outdoors in summer be skin aware - just because you can’t feel the burn doesn’t mean you aren’t burning!
Top tips for looking after your skin in the sun
Wear clothing with a UV rating – the tighter the weave the better the protection
Use SPF 30+ / broad spectrum UV A & B sunscreen and re-apply every two hours. Don’t forget your lips and your toes!
Wear a wide brimmed hat that covers your ears and the back of your neck – baseball caps protect the face and the top of the head but other sensitive parts of the head are still vulnerable.
Don't forget your sunglasses - sun exposure can affect your eyesight
Know your skin lesion ABC:
Asymmetry - the two halves of the area may differ in shape
Border - the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
Colour - this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen
Diameter - most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor
Expert - if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you.
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.