Dr Adey performs minor surgery sessions at Tarporley Cottage Hospital. Some of the things removed in these clinics include innocent skin abnormalities such as moles, lipomas, (fatty lumps) or sebaceous cysts. However, on occasions more serious things are removed such as rodent ulcers (basal cell carcinoma), solar keratosis or on rare occasions a melanoma. These may be related to a degree of sun damage. Sun damage is an increasing problem and it is a good idea to take note of the following advice to help protect your skin – there is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan!
Avoid the sun between 11 am and 3 pm when the rays are at their strongest. Try to plan outdoor activities for early morning or late afternoon.
Seek natural shade in the form of trees or other shelter.
Cover up, wear a hat (that covers the neck and ears) and sunglasses (ideally with UV filters). Avoid lightly woven fabrics as these may allow rays through.
Drink plenty of non alcoholic drinks while in the sun to prevent dehydration.
Use a high factor sunscreen of SPF 15 or above, that protects against UVB and UVA rays. Apply generous amounts, paying particular attention to skin near the edges of clothing such as straps and necklines, which are easily missed. Apply at least 30 minutes before going into the sun and re-apply every 2 hours. The higher the SPF factor the greater protection against UVB rays, which cause burning. UVA protection is usually rated separately.
Avoid excessive sun exposure in children – ensure they always wear sunscreen with a high SPF factor and a hat that covers the neck and ears. Encourage children to play in the shade and drink plenty of fluids. Babies under 12 months and young children should be kept in the shade and covered with a high factor sunscreen.
Always consult your GP if you notice any unusual changes in your skin or moles. Report any moles which become itchy, bleed, or change in colour, shape or size. Report any unusual skin lesions that persist, have not healed or change in colour, shape or size.
A tan shows that your skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself from further damage. Reducing your exposure to the sun will reduce your risk of developing this type of cancer. Further information is available from the British Association of Dermatologists.