Skin Health In Winter

This week we have a guest journal piece from our friends at MoleMap, who are offering a $50 discount on full-body scans until the end of June so book now to avoid missing out and important checks. Discount code at the bottom of this article.

Now that we have cooler days on the cards, what better time to check in with your skin health. See MoleMap’s top tips below.

Dur­ing the hot sum­mer months when the sun is blaz­ing, most of us are very con­scious about pro­tect­ing our skin. Then as the tem­per­a­tures cool, it’s only nat­ur­al that skin safe­ty becomes less of a priority. But it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that skin can­cer doesn’t hiber­nate for win­ter. And while it’s true that ini­tial skin dam­age is more like­ly to occur dur­ing sum­mer, skin can­cers can con­tin­ue to devel­op at any time of the year. To help you keep skin safe­ty top of mind, we’ve put togeth­er a post-sum­mer action plan. It’s a check­list of things to sched­ule – and impor­tant things to know – as we head into winter.

Action #1: Stay vig­i­lant with your sun­screen régime

It’s a real­ly sim­ple rule of thumb: if you’re head­ing out­doors, wear sun­screen. You need to pro­tect your­self from the sun every day – regard­less of the weath­er or time of year. UVA and UVB rays can affect your skin dif­fer­ent­ly, but both can cause seri­ous harm. While UVB rays (the main cause of sun­burn) are strongest in sum­mer, they can burn and dam­age your skin year-round. Also, note there’s no such thing as ​‘wind burn’; if your skin becomes red­dened, that’s from the sun. UVA rays remain con­stant through­out the year and can pen­e­trate through clouds and fog. UVA rays can also pen­e­trate glass, so it’s pos­si­ble to dam­age your skin sit­ting indoors next to a win­dow, or through a car window. And of course, if you enjoy win­ter sports, you’ll need full pro­tec­tion against reflec­tive sur­faces such as snow or ice. 

Action #2: Sched­ule reg­u­lar skin self-checks in your calendar.

We encour­age you to do this right now. (It’ll take less than two min­utes – but it could save your life). Drop a sim­ple reminder in your cal­en­dar – ​“do a skin check today”. Sched­ule it one week from now, then every 2 – 3 months there­after. When it pops up in your diary, sim­ply fol­low these instruc­tions on how to self-check your skin. Please note, these self-checks are in addi­tion to your full com­pre­hen­sive skin check at a pro­fes­sion­al skin can­cer clin­ic, which are rec­om­mend­ed annu­al­ly. If you haven’t had one of these yet, you can book now at your local MoleMap clin­ic.

Action #3: Under­stand the ear­ly signs of melanoma.

We tend to expose more skin in the sum­mer months, so we’re more like­ly to notice the ear­ly signs of skin can­cer – or have friends or fam­i­ly mem­bers point it out to us. Dur­ing win­ter, when we’re more cov­ered up, it can become a case of ​‘out of sight, out of mind’. It’s espe­cial­ly impor­tant to make an effort to do our own self-checks and reg­u­lar­ly mon­i­tor our skin (see Action 2 above!). And what should you be watch­ing out for? A use­ful tool is to fol­low the ​‘ABCDE’ guide­lines. Usu­al­ly, the most obvi­ous warn­ing signs of ear­ly-stage melanoma are changes to your moles or spots: in size, shape, colour or in how they look or how they feel. Melanoma can also appear as a new mole (more com­mon­ly in peo­ple aged 50+) rather than in a pre-exist­ing mole. If you notice a mole or spot with any of these fea­tures, get it checked as soon as possible.

Action #4: Know how quick­ly skin can­cer can develop.

Skin can­cer can devel­op at any time of year, and it cer­tain­ly doesn’t hiber­nate dur­ing the win­ter months. There are three main types of skin can­cer – and they can grow or progress at dif­fer­ent speeds.  Melanoma is con­sid­ered the most dan­ger­ous form of skin can­cer, because it can spread (metas­ta­sise) through­out the body very quick­ly. Once it pen­e­trates below the sur­face of the skin, it can become life-threat­en­ing very quick­ly — some­times in just a few months. Hence ear­ly detec­tion is so crit­i­cal. When found ear­ly, melanoma is rel­a­tive­ly easy to treat through exci­sion (removal) of the mole and any sur­round­ing skin. Our Full Body MoleMap ser­vice includes pre­ci­sion mole mon­i­tor­ing to detect even the small­est changes in your skin over time.

Action #5: Know your skin can­cer risk 

Did you know there are 7 skin can­cer risk fac­tors that can affect your risk of get­ting melanoma and oth­er skin cancers? These include: your skin and hair colour, your fam­i­ly and per­son­al his­to­ry, your his­to­ry of sun expo­sure, your age, the num­ber of moles you have, whether you have any unusu­al moles, and whether you have an out­doors lifestyle. Of course, hav­ing one or more risk fac­tors doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean you’ll devel­op skin can­cer. But it’s impor­tant to be aware of them, so that you can take pro­tec­tive mea­sures if you’re high­er risk. You can also take our quick ques­tion­naire to assess your lev­el of skin can­cer risk – low, mod­er­ate or high. We’ll send you the results, with rec­om­mend­ed next steps.

Discount code for $50 off full-body scan – ALBERTS

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