Skin Cancer Awareness – All You Need to Know

skin cancer awareness month
By Ellie Taylor 3rd May 2022 Category: Advice

Our expert dermatologists at sk:n provide insights on the SPF blindspots, what to look out for and some of their favourite SPF products to protect your skin

With summer just on the horizon, we’re all spending more time outside, catching up with friends, enjoying some outdoor exercise or soaking up the sun in our local beer garden. However, as the sun starts to warm up it’s important to make sure we’re prepared and keep our skin covered and protected. 

Although it may not be the first thing on your mind when basking in the sun, it is important to be aware of the dangers of high levels of UV light, which, in addition to immediate sunburn, can also potentially increase the risk of developing skin cancers. 

Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, but if you’re careful, the risk of developing the disease can be dramatically reduced. As May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, our experts talk us through the SPF ‘blindspots’, skin changes to look out for and how to cover up properly. 

When it comes to applying our SPF sun cream, what areas are most commonly missed?

The most common areas that people neglect when applying SPF protection are the backs of the hands, ears and in cases of baldness, the scalp. All of which are common areas for skin damage and skin cancer. 

It’s crucial that we’re not missing these areas and we cover all our exposed skin. There are spray SPF sunscreens that can help reach those blind spot areas such as the ears, or you can ask a friend to apply it for you. When it comes to the scalp, SPF protection is a must for areas not covered with a thick layer of hair. A brimmed hat is also a great solution, especially for those people with a history of skin damage or who are at risk of skin cancer.

What signs or changes should we be looking out for?

In Western countries like the UK, where there is a greater population of fair-skinned people and increasing levels of UV light, people should be vigilant with regards to the risks associated with the sun. 

Firstly, everyone should watch out for any change in existing moles. The ABCD acronym is a good way of remembering how to check for any changes and when to be concerned:

  • A – Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape.
  • B – Border Irregularities – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches.
  • C – Colour Change (particularly blue, grey or black) – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen.
  • D – Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor.

If in doubt, we always recommend consulting an expert with any changes to your moles. It’s also important to be aware of any new lesions, such as a new freckle or mole, particularly if this is accompanied by changing colours or rapid growth.

If after exposing your skin to the sun you spot any of these changes or new legions, consult a dermatologist.

What can we do to protect ourselves? Are there any products you’d recommend?

It’s essential to protect the skin from high levels of UV radiation, and don’t forget, UVA waves can still penetrate through windows – even in winter – so it’s advisable to keep protected all day long. 

We would recommend using sunscreen with adequate SPF protection (minimum factor 30) which will need to be topped up after 4 hours, if continuously exposing the skin to sunlight throughout the day.

Another good tip is to also seek the shade regularly, wearing light clothing and avoiding the peak sun hours (between 12-3pm) to help decrease the overall exposure. 

Heliocare and Medik8 are great brands for sun protection as they include protection against UVA and UVB rays, blue light, and have high levels of SPF protection, all while looking after your skin. 

Here are just a few products recommendations:

Heliocare Advanced Cream SPF50+ is a multitasking sunscreen which features Fernblock®, a supercharged antioxidant extract derived from a fern with the ability to withstand the sun’s rays. 

Heliocare 360 Invisible Spray SPF50+ is ideal for reaching those SPF blind spots. The spray has a sand and water-resistant formulation and can be applied from any angle, ensuring easy application. It’s even effective on wet skin. 

Heliocare 360 Water Gel SPF50+ is a water-based gel formula which absorbs quickly and dries to an invisible matte finish, so it’s ideal for layering with other skincare and make-up products.

Medik8 Advanced Day Total Protect SPF30 this advanced day cream incorporates a pollution shield, UVA sunscreen, and additional blue light defence to protect against screen-induced damage.

If you’re worried about new or existing moles and you would like to speak with a specialist dermatologist at one of our sk:n clinics, please visit our mole removal page to find out more and book your consultation. 

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