Local Cancer Charity promotes skin safety this winter: Tis (always) the Season to protect your skin

This Christmas, local cancer charity, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people to be Skin Cancer aware through three handy tips to help reduce risk of UV skin damage during the winter months. With darker and cloudier days, winter sun holidays, ski trips and a desire to look bronzed for the festive party season, the charity is aware that people may sometimes put away the sunscreen or seek out sunbeds for a tanned winter glow.

Speaking about the importance of remaining skin aware during the winter months, Doreen Regan, Skin Cancer Prevention Co-ordinator at Cancer Focus NI says:

“Skin cancer is our most common cancer in Northern Ireland, with 11 people receiving a diagnosis of this disease every day, no matter what the weather is like.  Don’t forget to keep checking your skin even though we’re all layering up for winter. If you notice any changes, see your GP as soon as possible. Early detection of skin cancer saves lives.”

Discussing winter holidays and sunbeds, Doreen continues:

“Protecting our skin from the damage caused by UV light from the sun or from sunbeds is essential if we are to reduce our risk of developing skin cancer in the future. If you’re planning a skiing holiday or a trip to sunnier climates this winter, make sure to pack your sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and 4-5 star UVA protection. It’s also important to remind people of the dangers of sunbeds. The advice is don’t do anything this Christmas that could increase your risk of skin cancer. No tan is worth it.”

Dr Louise Herron, Consultant in Service Development and Screening at the Public Health Agency (PHA) added:

Sunlight is important for our overall health and wellbeing. However, too much UV radiation from the sun can cause damage to the skin and lead to skin cancer. It’s important to protect our skin all year round as even on cool or cloudy days, the rays from the sun can be strong enough to damage our skin and eyes. The majority of all skin cancers are preventable by undertaking simple sun protection measures.”

The charity has provided three handy hints and tips for people to protect their skin this winter:

  1. Check your skin: Do you know the signs of skin cancer? Check your skin regularly to notice any change. If you notice something is different or you see a new mole, contact your GP as soon as possible. Early detection of skin cancer saves lives.
  2. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen:  If you’re hitting the slopes remember to pack sunscreen, shades and lip protection. Snow can reflect almost 90% of UV radiation meaning UV rays are much more likely to burn areas such as your chin, nose and lips.
  3. Ditch the sunbeds: There is no safe limit of exposure to UV radiation from sunbeds.  Using a sunbed, even once at any stage during your life increases the risk of developing skin cancer. It can also make skin look more wrinkled, older, or leathery. Give your skin a Christmas gift this year and ditch the sunbeds.