The summer of 2013 has been without a doubt the best for a few years and will be remembered as the first ‘proper’ summer in a while, with July in particular delivering day after day of hot sunshine.
The warmth has of course encouraged millions of us to spend more time outdoors, yet despite the media warnings, many Brits would confess to not having been sufficiently protected from the sun at all times and risking over-exposure to the sun’s harmful rays.
Who can honestly say they’ve never fallen prey to one of these temptations:
- Using a lower factor sunscreen, whether in the eagerness to get a good tan or simply out of convenience, grabbing whatever is to hand
- Staying out too long – and not coming in between 12-4
- Not wearing a hat or long sleeves on hot days
- Not reapplying sun cream immediately after swimming or sweaty exercise
- Grabbing a quick 5 minutes here or there without sun protection e.g. in a lunch break, a morning run or an early evening walk
The skin turning pink is an early sign that the skin has been over-exposed to the sun and been damaged. If that redness lasts or subsequently the skin peels, that indicates more severe sun damage. Yet even those that have not endured red, inflamed or peeling skin could still have sun damaged skin.
Moles and the Sun
Most Brits have a certain number of moles – usually around 30, although it can be over 300. Moles have been linked to sun exposure but are also related to a number of other factors such as skin type and family genetics.
Most moles are of no medical concern, yet “Malignant Melanoma” is a dangerous, cancerous form of mole. It is therefore very important to check regularly for any changing or new moles that can sometimes become more obvious after sun exposure.
Malignant melanoma moles can be found on any part of the body but typically in men are found most commonly on the back and women on the legs. It is always also important to check areas that the sun does not see such as soles of feet and the bottom as they rarely can appear in areas that have never seen the sun, so no area should be neglected.
All adults should do a regular self-check for moles, looking for new or changing moles particularly ones that stand out or look ugly compared to the other moles. Most melanomas (70%) are new moles that often change over 3-9 months but could be a fast-growing new mole or else a pre-existing mole that changes size, shape, colour or starts to bleed, itch or redden.
Read more in the ABCDE rule, which describes the features of early melanoma and is described further in The Facts About Moles.
Remember, the majority of moles are actually harmless, but it is very important to be alert to any that may cause a problem. If in doubt, see a GP – moles posing a medical concern are usually removed very quickly and this treatment is covered by the NHS.
For moles that are not of medical concern, then private mole removal is the fastest solution; as unfortunately the NHS considers this to be a cosmetic issue. Mole removal either using laser or surgery is a very simple and quick procedure with a trained doctor, requiring just a local anaesthetic and normally leaves only a very small scar.