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Make the Right Call: Skin cancer nurse specialist on sun protection as warm weather continues

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander

Archant

Figures show that every year around 1,400 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in Ipswich.

And of those, approximately 80 are treated for melanoma which is the most serious form of skin cancer.

Rachel Alexander, Macmillan skin cancer clinical nurse specialist at Ipswich Hospital, said simple steps can be taken to reduce the risk of the disease.

Advice includes avoiding the sun from 11am-3pm when the UV index is at its highest, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, using a sun protection of at least factor 30 and applying it 20 minutes before exposure.

She said: “Suncream needs to be applied before going outside because then it has a chance at being beneficial.

“Most people only put it on when their skin goes pink but by that point it’s already had too much sun.

“Good hydration is also important and using parasols to escape the heat in the shade.”

Mrs Alexander said it was important to enjoy good weather for the vitamin D benefits but to ensure you are protected.

“Sunshine is good for your bones and development but you can pick up a bit of healthy sun exposure early or late in the day,” she added. For those who get sunburnt, steps to reduce discomfort include taking anti-inflammatory medication, having a tepid bath to reduce the skin’s temperature, using aloe vera products or getting advice from the pharmacy.

She added: “No sunbathing is safe and sun tans are the body’s way of saying your skin has been damaged. A lot of people think it’s a healthy side effect but it’s not.

“Picking up early changes in a mole is important as it can be removed quickly while lymph nodes can be checked.

“It gives you the best prognosis by seeing your GP and being referred to the hospital.”

Visit www.ipswichhospital.nhs.uk/skincancer for information.

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