What To Look Out For During Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Skin cancer kills about seven people a day (on average) here in the UK. Knowing that, it’s probably no surprise to learn that it’s one of the most common forms of cancer in this country, with around 100,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
It’s a scary statistic, but worth remembering that not all of these cases are deadly. In fact, spotting the symptoms early and getting treatment makes it far easier to treat. That’s why one of the main aims of Skin Cancer Awareness Month is to give people exactly the knowledge they need to identify these symptoms – and it’s one of the aims of this week’s blog, too!
This Week Is Sun Awareness Week
Neatly, the international Skin Cancer Awareness Month coincides with the UK’s Sun Awareness Week, promoted by the British Association of Dermatologists. Starting on the 14th of May, its purpose is to raise awareness of the consequences of long exposure to the sun. In 2016 more than one in three Britons were sunburnt, and of those, around a third were sunburnt three or more times. That’s not healthy! Regular sunburn can be a major contributing factor to the development of skin cancer, so shielding yourself properly against the sun is vital, especially now we’re moving into sunnier weather.
Thankfully, doing so is easy. A great start is simply to cover up and stay under shade. We also can’t overstate enough the importance of using the appropriate factor sunscreen – and that’s where we come in! Our Heliocare range provides an unparalleled level of sun protection. It uses a natural fern extract that has evolved over centuries to develop an incredible level of sun damage protection, enhancing your skin’s in-built defences. Without proper protection you’re at greater risk of developing skin cancer, so it’s important not to neglect it!
Who is most at risk of skin cancer?
There are two main types of skin cancer: there’s the more common (but less serious) non-melanoma, and the more aggressive malignant melanoma, often just shortened to melanoma. Your likelihood of developing skin cancer is affected by a whole range of factors. Some of them are to do with your lifestyle – certain jobs involve more time out in the sun, for example, like activity instructors, construction specialists or other tradespeople, while frequent holidays in hot, sunny countries can expose you to longer and more intensive UV radiation than our traditional mild British weather.
Your also genetics play a big part. Many people who are diagnosed with skin cancer are 50 or over – but that doesn’t mean that young people are immune from it, either! Some of the most well-known increased risk factors include:
- Having a lot of moles or freckles
- Red or fair hair
- Light-coloured eyes
- Fair skin that burns easily, or a history of sunburn
- A personal or family history of skin cancer
So, how can you spot the symptoms before they become a problem?
The most common symptoms of skin cancer
1. An unexplained spot or sore
If you’re concerned about a new spot or sore you haven’t noticed before, we’d always recommend having it checked by a professional to be on the safe side. Spots and sores are common, but they tend to go away quickly, so if you’ve got one that remains longer than four weeks, definitely get it checked. That goes double if it hurts, if it’s itchy at all, crusty, scabbing or bleeding often. These kinds of spots can often appear red or a dark colour, but that’s not necessarily always the case!
2. New ulcers or lumps on your skin
We’ve all had the odd ulcer in our time – the mouth is the most frequent place for them to appear. But they can appear elsewhere on our skin too. Naturally, if they’re painful, they’re certainly not hard to notice, but even if they’re not, you can still spot them if you know what you’re looking for. Similar to the spots above, look out for an area of skin that’s sore or visibly irritated. If it doesn’t go away within four weeks, definitely see a professional!
3. Changes to an existing mole or freckle
As we touched on above, having a lot of moles or freckles can potentially increase your risk of skin cancer, so it’s important to keep an eye on them to make sure that there are no visible changes. Look out for any that change shape or look uneven, change colour – often by becoming darker or redder – or get bigger.
4. Red patches on your skin
It’s not uncommon to get the odd red patch on your skin occasionally, especially if you’ve been sunburnt! In fact, there are a couple of non-cancerous skin conditions that can cause your skin to become red or itchy (temporary allergic reactions, for example), but getting it checked just in case is never a bad idea, especially if it appears to be a particularly long-lived reaction – i.e. anywhere over a couple of days or weeks.
Even if your skin appears healthy, it’s still a good idea to conduct regular check-ups. Knowing how your skin looks and feels normally is helpful in spotting changes quickly. For areas you can’t see or reach – such as your back – you can use a handheld mirror together with a larger wall-mounted one to look over your own shoulder. Alternatively, you could simply get a trusted friend or partner to check – in fact, that’s probably easier!
And if your skin is already healthy, why not give it that extra bit of glow? Here at AP Skincare, we provide a number of brilliant skincare treatments, from derma-facials and chemical peels to non-surgical facelifts. Why not pop by our Blackburn treatment centre and book an appointment? You can also do so over the phone – just give us a call on 01254 297 000!