Skin Checks: Are You At Risk?

February 6, 2015| Health and Wellbeing /

Every adult should check their skin at the start of summer (or sooner).

 

That’s the key message coming from Epworth HealthCare's Director of Dermatology Professor Rodney Sinclair as the mercury heats up and we get set to enjoy those glorious, long and hot summer days.

“Summer is a great time of year, but its arrival each December should be a reminder for each and every one of us to check our skin for changes or anything unusual,” he says.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and an annual skin check is the key starting point in the fight against skin cancer.

People need to rely on their intuition. If anything doesn’t look right, or something is bothering you, that’s the time to see a doctor and arrange a skin check with a dermatologist.
— Professor Rodney Sinclair, Director of Dermatology, Epworth HealthCare

Of course, there are some groups of people who are at an even higher risk of skin cancer and Professor Sinclair says these people need to be even more proactive and lock in annual skin checks with a dermatologist as a matter of course.

“If you’ve had a previous melanoma you are at a higher risk of having a second and should be having regular skin checks, and likewise regular checks are essential if you’ve had a non-melanoma skin cancer in the past five years or if you were in your 20’s or 30’s when you had your first skin cancer,” he says.

 

Professor Sinclair confirms that skin type also plays a part in when you need a professional skin assessment from a dermatologist:

  • If you’ve got red hair, fair skin, freckles and burn easily, then you should have a skin assessment with a dermatologist at the age of 35 years

  • If you’ve got blonde hair and fair skin, you should book your assessment at 40 years

  • If you’ve got olive hair and tan easily, you need an assessment at 50 years

At the dermatology appointment, you will receive a head to toe skin check, including an assessment of any moles and areas of concern. You’ll also receive a plan on how to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays and what follow up is recommended, including the frequency of future dermatological skin checks.

The good news is that it’s never too late to protect your skin from damage. “The best prevention is to avoid sunburn. Every time you get sunburned you are damaging your skin cells and that’s what we are trying to avoid,” says Professor Sinclair.

Where does all that leave the sun-kissed Aussie ideal? You can still enjoy the sunshine safely this summer by following the “slip, slop, slap” message, as well as seeking shade and sliding on some sunglasses.



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