The arrival of spring means more sun exposure for Irish skins. Almost everyone is aware that prolonged sun exposure is damaging to our health. Not only can it lead to changes in the skin such as brown spots, moles and general ageing, it may cause the development of skin cancer.
Today in Ireland, Melanoma is one of the most common cancers. The statistics are rising rapidly and the number of cases in Ireland is increasing faster than any other cancer. Each year around 721 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Ireland with this number likely to greatly increase in future years.
So what is melanoma?
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. The pigment in our skin that gives colour is called ‘Melanin’ and Melanoma is cancer of the cells that make melanin, the melanocytes. Melanoma occurs when the cells do not behave as normal and keep growing when there is no need for them. This group of abnormal cells can form a lump or tumor.
Changes in the cells usually start on the surface of the skin, either with the appearance of a mole or with changes in normal skins appearance. In rare cases, melanoma may develop in other parts of the body, for example, the eyes, mouth, under finger or toenails, or even in the bowel.
Types of melanoma
Superficial spreading melanoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer. It grows along the surface of your skin. It may grow out of a mole that has suddenly changed or a new mole may develop.
Nodular melanoma: This is the second most common type of skin cancer and is more commonly occuring in men. It’s growth is fast and can grow quite quickly into the deeper skin layers. It can occur in normal skin or skin that is not exposed to the sun very often. It has a raised area on the skin and may be brown or black in colour.
Lentigo melanoma: More common in older people, this type of skin cancer is often found on your feet and toenails. It begins as a small, brown freckle or stain and gradually spreads to form a bumpy surface, which can grow slowly over many years.
Acral melanoma: Usually found in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or around the toenails. It is more common in dark-skinned people.
Uveal Melanoma: This is a rare melanoma of the eye. It develops in the lining of the eyeball called the uvea.
Moles and pigmentation
Moles may be flat or elevated. Sometimes they grow hairs. The most important feature however is pigmentation.
When should you be suspicious of a mole? Know your A B C D E.
- A. Asymmetry: If you were to draw a line down the middle of the mole, the two sides should match, meaning it is symmetrical.
- B. Border: A benign mole has smooth, even borders.
- C. Color: Most benign moles are all one color, often a single shade of brown.
- D. Diameter: Benign moles usually have a small diameter that malignant ones.
- Evolving: Benign moles stay the same over time. Be alert when a mole start to evolve or change in any way.
What to look for
The best way to be sun smart this spring/summer is to get into the routine of applying sun factor every morning before you leave the house. A factor of 30 or above will provide the sufficient protection that is needed. Remember to apply the cream to any exposed areas of your body including, face, neck (front and back), chest, hands and feet. We all know that the weather in Ireland is very changeable and that we often experience all four seasons in one day! Having this daily routine will keep you protected should the sun peek its head out at any time.
Maximal Sense SPF50
Our Akademikliniken ‘Maximal Sense SPF50’ provides UVA + UVB skin protection and fights free radical sun damage. It is a gentle non-whitening formula, which is suitable for sensitive skins prone to burning. Vitamins and botanical ingredients deliver antioxidant and regenerative protection to leave the skin hydrated and soothed. Maximal Sense fights burning, irritation and skin damage. Akademikliniken’s resident Dermatologist advise the use of a high SPF product as the best defence against sun ageing. Here is some skin saving math for you: A 50ml bottle is nicely priced at €42 and should last for approximately 3 months. That’s €14 a month, €3.50 per week or 50 cent per day. We think that’s a small safety price to pay!
You can keep up to date with daily UV updates for your location on this nifty UV awareness website: http://www.uvawareness.com/