Melanoma Awareness, Preventative Tips
For most of us, winter is time to hibernate. We wrap up in layers of clothing, stay inside more and don’t expose our skin if we can help it. Ironically, this is why winter can be a dangerous time for skin cancer such as melanoma – because we’re less likely to spot it.
As you may know, your skin is constantly changing – and just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it stops changing. Skin damage from the summer months won’t show up overnight and in fact, can take years to manifest itself.
In summer when we’re exposing more skin, we’re more likely to notice a potential skin cancer – or for friends or family members to point it out. Conversely, when we’re covered up during winter months, we’re less likely to notice any moles changing in size or colour – or the appearance of any new moles.
Winter is a good time to get your skin checked professionally, as moles and skin lesions (potential skin cancers) tend to show less of the normal signs of sun exposure, which makes the job of identifying any suspicious lesions easier.
In summer, the skin is often ‘busier’ with the signs of recent sun exposure, so it’s harder to identify skin lesions requiring attention. However, our proven system means that once potential skin cancers are identified and imaged by our Melanographer, they can still be diagnosed much more accurately than the naked eye.
The most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, which generally grows slowly. Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are less common, but they can grow fairly quickly – with devastating results.
Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer of all, and can grow vertically into your skin at a rate of 0.49mm per month, becoming invasive within three months.1
So, break up the long winter months with a Full Body MoleMap or Skin Check with MoleMap. Both of these services include a head-to-toe check of your entire body as melanoma can also grow in areas that aren’t exposed to the sun.
While obviously winter sun is a lot less dangerous than our harsh summer rays, it still pays to protect your skin if you’re outside for more than a short period.2
Apply 30+ sunscreen to exposed areas of skin such as the face, hands, lips and ears. If you’re skiing, playing sport or working outdoors, wear a hat, protective goggles or sunglasses and limit your time in the sun.
And it goes without saying that if you’re lucky enough to have a mid-winter holiday overseas, apply sunscreen to or cover up your winter skin!
As you get older, the reassurance of a regular, professional skin check such as a Full Body MoleMap becomes even more important.
At any time of the year, if you notice a spot on the skin that looks different from the others or is changing, bleeding or itchy, see your GP or book an appointment with MoleMap as soon as possible.
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References: 1. Arch Dermatol. 2006 Dec;142(12):1551-8. Rate of growth in melanomas: characteristics and associations of rapidly growing melanomas. Liu W1, Dowling JP, Murray WK, McArthur GA, Thompson JF, Wolfe R, Kelly JW. 2. http://archive.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/environment/environmental-reporting-series/environmental-indicators/Home/Atmosphere-and-climate/uv-intensity.aspx