Skin Cancer Awareness Month: How to check and protect your skin

May 08, 2021
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Skin Cancer Awareness Month is here! There's no better time to for us talk about skin cancer and the steps we can all take to safeguard our skin health. It is so important to regularly check and protect our skin, for both early detection and effective prevention of skin cancer. Overexposure to UV rays from the sun is a key risk factor for both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers - which means that we can do our part to reduce our own risk by staying sun-safe and sun-smart. Here are a few tips on how to go about checking and protecting your skin.


Check Your Skin

Spotting skin cancer early can make treatment easier and more likely to succeed. That's why it's so important to regularly check our skin from head-to-toe; including our back, ears, and other hard to see areas. Use a mirror or ask someone to help out to make sure you're not missing any spots.

Here are a couple of signs to look out for, which may be worth seeing your GP about:

  •  A mole that is new, changing, growing, or just doesn't look quite right. Remember that skin cancer can be any colour - from flesh-coloured, tan, brown, black, blue, pink, red, or multicoloured.
  • A spot that is itchy, painful, crusting, scaly or bleeding.
  • An open sore that doesn't heal for more than 3 weeks.

If in doubt, check it out - definitely do see your GP about any lumps or moles you're unsure about. They will be able to examine your skin and refer you onto a specialist if needed.



Protect Your Skin

The single most important thing we can do to reduce our chance of skin cancer is protecting our skin from the sun and overexposure to UV light. This means:

  •  Staying out of the sun where possible, especially around midday when the sun's rays are most direct.
  • Covering up with clothing, wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Applying sunscreen and SPF lip balm every day, with at least SPF 30 broad spectrum protection so you're protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid using tanning beds or sunbeds. Along with contributing significantly to skin cancer risk, the UV damage also makes skin age faster - a process known as photoaging. If you'd like a tan, a sunless tan using self-tanning products is a much safer and healthier option for your skin.



To learn more about skin cancer and sun safety, you can read more on any of these websites:

Cancer Foundation - Skin Cancer Awareness Month

British Association of Dermatologists - Sun Awareness Week 

British Association of Dermatologists - Information Leaflets 

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