HEALTH AND CARE: Take care of your skin while enjoying the sun this summer

Take extra care of children's skin and make sure they are protected
Take extra care of children's skin and make sure they are protected

The Herald & Gazette has joined forces with GP practices in the area which form part of the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). This week, the practices speak about the dangers of skin cancer.

It seems like summer may be finally here and last week we enjoyed some beautifully sunny days across West Sussex.

But as we all know, there are hidden dangers.

More than 13,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year – and it is the fifth most common cancer in the UK.

Young people, in particular, are increasingly being diagnosed.

More than a quarter of cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is unusual compared to most other types of cancer.

More than two people under 35 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer – in Britain every day.

In the late 1970s, there were around 290 cases of melanoma among 15 to 34 year olds – now there are more than 900 new cases a year.

Sadly it’s becoming more common in the UK over time, thought to be caused by increased exposure to UV light from the sun and sun beds.

Most skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light damaging the DNA in skin cells, and the main source of UV light is sunlight.

It is fantastic to be outdoors in the sunshine, especially after a long, cold winter, but we all need to realise that the sun can be powerful no matter what time of year.

Artificial sources of light, such as sunlamps and tanning beds, can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

In particular, repeated sunburn, either by the sun or artificial sources of light, increases the risk of melanoma in people of all ages.

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

This can happen anywhere on the body, but the back, legs, arms and face are most commonly affected.

In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and more than one colour.

They may also be larger than normal moles and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.

If you notice any change to your moles please go and see your GP.

They can check it out, and can refer you to a specialist clinic or hospital if needed.

We want everyone to enjoy the summer and have a good time in the sun; just take simple steps to protect yourself from serious damage – use sunscreen with a factor of 30 or higher, spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses, and particularly take extra care of children’s skin and make sure they are protected.

Find out more at www.nhs.uk/livewell/skin/pages/sunsafe.aspx