Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Melanoma Awareness Month

You'll have probably seen on other blogs that May is Melanoma Awareness Month and I thought I'd do a little post on it with some information you might find handy.  Having worked in a Dermatology unit over the last four years, I've unintentionally learned a bit about skin care and sun protection so here are my little tidbits for you.

I'm covered with moles and always have been.  Throughout my childhood, teenage years and twenties, I went mad trying to get a tan on every holiday or if the sun came out for a bit here in Ireland.  I did stupid things like wear really low SPF in Spain and let myself get burnt thinking sure the redness will turn into a tan.  I didn't do crazy things like wear oils in the sun or use sunbeds though.  My mam had it drilled into me that sunbeds were bad and mam knows best eh?  Sunbeds are bad.  Just don't do them.  Not even for a minute.

Tanned skin is damaged skin.  Wear an SPF every day.  If you don't like wearing sunscreen under your foundation, try a foundation with sun protection in it.  There are plenty out there on the market now in every price range so you should be able to find something.  I'll be doing a post on sun protection soon so keep an eye out for that.

1 in 8 men and 1 in 10 women in Ireland will develop skin cancer and there are about 100 deaths each year from melanoma.  Men tend to get melanomas on their scalp more than women and this is due to the fact that women usually have more hair to protect their scalps.  So get the men in your lives wearing caps!  And make them watch this video.... It gave me a lump in my throat, the big sap that I am...

Dr Patrick Ormonde, Consultant Dermatologist in St James's Hospital advised that if you've nobody to check your scalp for you, try feeling your scalp for raised lesions at first.  Checking your scalp with wet hair means you might be able to see things a little bit more clearly.  Failing that, try asking your hairdresser to check your noggin for you if you're worried about anything.

Blend your SPF into your hairline.  I learned this the hard way last week on holidays!  A raw scalp isn't a good look and is sure to have your friends pointing and laughing...  Do your ears too.  I have teeny weeny baby ears so this isn't a problem for me. A quick swipe and I'm done.

If you're moley like myself, check your skin regularly.  As Dr Ormonde said, you know your own skin, you're looking at it all the time.  You're looking for change.  Now, skin changes, that's the way of the world, but you're looking for weird change, like the "ugly duckling" type of change.  If you see a mole that's changed in colour or shape, or a new lesion you're worried about, just go to your GP who can refer you on to a Dermatologist if need be.  If you're unsure as to whether you're seeing changes or not, try taking photos of some lesions and then you'll have something to compare it to.

La Roche Posay have developed a public awareness campaign called SOS Save Our Skin and they have an amazing website that goes along with it.  It's full of information and I've found myself perusing it over the past couple of weeks.

There's an evaluation that will tell you your personal risk level and it told me what I already knew in that I have a high risk of developing skin cancer.  I have Skin Type I/II, mousey brown hair, green eyes,  have more than 40 moles all over my body, have had severe sunburn in the past and have a family history of melanoma.  If I'd known this even ten years ago I would have taken better care of my skin but it's better late than never.

Be sun smart folks!

1 comment

  1. Great post, really informative & imperative for us pale Irish girlies. http://theretrosuitcase.blogspot.com/


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