Think of summer, and you’re likely to think of sun. Winter? Not so much! Regardless, the cooler months can actually be the perfect time to have your skin checked by a skin cancer specialist, and here’s why…
- Skin cancer isn’t seasonal
Skin cancer doesn’t conveniently stick to the seasons, and in fact skin lesions can often take months or years to develop. That’s why it’s important to keep checking for any changes in your skin no matter the season: a self-check every three months is a good rule-of-thumb. An ideal time to check your skin is in the shower or after a bath, and if you notice any changes in size or colour, tenderness, itchiness or bleeding it is important to book a skin check appointment straight away.
- We rug up over winter
It’s only natural to throw the heavy jumpers, pants and clothes on to rug up against the winter cold, which unfortunately makes the chance of spotting any problematic skin changes much slimmer. The problem is, many of the most harmful skin cancer types including melanomas can grow very quickly (potentially becoming invasive within months, or even weeks). If you do happen to have a risky mole or lesion on your skin and don’t have it checked until summer, that’s months that it could be left to become more advanced.
- You’re still exposed to the sun
The day doesn’t need to be hot for us to be receiving harmful rays. No matter the time of year, we’re being exposed to UV radiation. UV-A and UV-B radiation is present year-round, including the colder months. UV-A can even penetrate glass whilst you are driving.If you’re going on a winter skiing trip or to a tropical island holiday, reflection from the sun and snow can further contribute to sunburn and DNA damage. The trick is to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide in every season.
- There will be plenty of parking spots!
We all want our skin cancer check to be as convenient as possible. Our skin clinics can get very busy over summer as everyone is reminded of the importance of skin checks. By booking in a skin check in the cooler months you’ll be able to book when you want, and find a parking spot much easier on the day!
What to do
The most important thing you may do for your health this winter is get your skin checked. While a great number of people take on-board the sun-smart message during summer, it is often neglected during the winter. Skin cancers can develop at any time so sun protection measures and skin checks should not be neglected during the cooler months.People need to be aware that skin lesions from sun damage during summer months won’t show up over night. In fact it may take months or years for the damage to develop into a skin cancer. During summer you are far more likely to notice moles or unusual lesions as more of your skin is exposed. During the winter months we are heavily clothed and as a result often less likely to notice suspicious moles.
Additionally, winter may prove to be the best time for a full skin check. As most people are covered up during the winter months, this minimises sun exposure to skin lesions and moles. This can allow for better dermoscopy viewing (a distinct magnifying light, which allows a doctor to closely examine spots on the skin). Sun exposure can cause a mole to transform slightly which can make a normal mole appear suspect.
Remember to protect your skin this winter by applying 30+ sunscreen to exposed areas of skin such as the face and hands and don’t forget your lips and ears, and wear protective goggles or sunglasses for work, sports or just time out in the sun. If you notice a spot on the skin that looks different from the others or is changing, bleeding or itchy, it should be examined by a doctor.
Be skin savvy and book your skin cancer check today by calling SunDoctors Skin Cancer Clinics on 13SKIN (13 75 46).