Summer still seems to lingering on but soon winter will come. Patient’s thoughts turn away from beaches , swimming and camping, but skin cancer doctors’ remain focused on skin cancers and melanomas.
In summer, we regularly see patients with sunburn. Many of these forgot to use sunscreen, or simply did not realise how quickly they would burn. There is good evidence that protecting our skin reduces melanomas and other skin cancers. Many people know what they should do, but simply forget to do it.
Many of us relax in winter, but many of us don’t realise that even in the cooler months the UV index is often above 3 – the level we need sun protection. On some days it still gets upto to 13 (extreme).
To get the most out of your sunscreen:
- Cover up as much as possible.
- Use one with SPF 50+
- Apply 1 heaped teaspoon for each arm and leg, 1 for the front, 1 for the back and 1 for the face,ears and neck. This makes 7 teaspoons per full body application.
- Apply sunscreen 15 mins before stepping into the sun as they take time to work.
- Re-apply every 2 hours or after swimming.
- Stay in the shade but still use plenty of sunscreen. Even even under gazebos, umbrellas and trees we are exposed to the reflected UV radiation. Even the best umbrella would only reduce the UV by half.
Early diagnosis is crucial:
Triple M recently interviewed Dr Ben Carew a Brisbane Dermatologist for its Biggest Skin Check Day. He highlighted the importance of regular skin checks and the need to get any suspicious skin lesions checked. Any new or changing mole (size,shape or colour), any tender, bleeding , ulcerating mole or skin sores that are not healing within 4 weeks can all be signs that you have a problem that needs treating. New raised lesions or skin lumps that a growing need a review after 4 weeks even when they are not brown -these may be a rapidly progressing melanoma. These problems need urgent review.
If you have grown up in Australia, and especially if you have an English, Scottish or Irish background or a family history of melanoma you are wise to have a skin check regularly. Book an appointment for a skin check online with Dr Colbrook in Wishart / Upper Mt Gravatt. For patients who prefer to see a lady doctor for their skin concerns Dr Brittany Wakefield has joined us recently in Mount Gravatt.
The skin cancer section of our website has more information about checking your own skin.