With the weather starting to break and the majority of us Brits, having been deprived of decent sunshine for some months now, are desperate for some sun and a tan! However, most people are still choosing to ignore the warnings take come with sitting in the sun, using sunbeds and the damage it can cause. The same old story of “it won’t happen to me” was true of one of our owners and tutor Lisa Oliver – here is her story and some information on how to protect you and your family from UV rays and how to check yourself for signs of Malignant Melanomas.
Malignant Melanomas. How to identify them and protect yourself!
The most common cause of skin cancer is from U.V rays from the sun.
In the present day most people are aware of the harm that over exposure to the sun can cause, but, back in the day, this was not the case.
I remember the days when people used coconut oil to get the deepest darkest tan possible. These days, most of us know that coconut oil has many benefits but sun protection is not one of them!
Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was the trend to be brown and I certainly made a full time job of it. I suffered with prickly heat and burnt every time a ray of sun hit me but I was determined to be brown. I discovered that building my tan gradually on a sunbed before I went away stopped me from burning, “great” I thought problem solved. If only it was that simple.
In 2004 I was at the GP for a check up, I happen to ask the doctor if this pink lesion that had appeared on my arm was anything to worry about, she assured me it wasn’t and at the time I had no reason to think any different. When working in a beauty salon in 2013 clients asked what it was on a regular basis, I had no worries and just replied it was a mole. After numerous people asking me what it was and bringing it to my attention, I realised my little pink mole had changed. I went back to the GP and had a huge shock when it turned out to be a Malignant Melanoma. Fortunately after two excisions and 3 years of checkups I have been given the all clear. I now no longer use sunbeds and take lots of precautions when I’m out in the sun.
How to Identify a Melanoma
The ABCDE rule has been very effective at aiding the early identification of superficial spreading melanomas. Superficial spreading melanoma can have any one of the following criteria:
A – Asymmetry – The shape of one half does not match the other.
B – Border – The edges are often ragged, notched, blurred or irregular in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
C – Colour – The colour is uneven. Shades of black, brown and tan maybe present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink or blue may also be seen.
D – Diameter – Size changes and usually increases. Typically, melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter (the same diameter of a pencil).
E – Evolving – Changes in colour, shape and size.
How to Protect yourself in the sun
- Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. Make sure it is water-resistant and reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside so your skin has time to absorb it. Be generous in the application, an ounce of sunscreen should cover the face, neck, arms and legs of the average adult.
- Wear protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Seek shade when possible, especially during the hours of 11:00 am to 4:00 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds as ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.
- Protect children by reapplying sunscreen often with an SPF of at least 30 ensuring they play in the shade and wear protective clothing.
- Babies under the age of 6 months should never be in direct sunlight and should always wear a hat and clothing that protects them from UV rays.
- Adults should perform regular self examinations. It is an easy way to detect abnormalities.
- Use Tres Chic Professional Tanning Products for a beautiful natural looking tan. Self tanning products do not contain SPF.