This week’s blog post is written by Melanie who is currently Miss Universe Wexford and will be competing for the title of Miss Universe Ireland on Thursday, August 1st. She is an Oncology Pharmaceutical Technician and her platform is to educate about the dangers of too much sun exposure and encourage best practices to keep skin protected and prevent skin cancer. We’re delighted to be her official sponsor for the Miss Universe Ireland 2019 competition! You can follow her journey on Instagram @melanie_delaney
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland and according to the Irish Cancer Society, by 2020 1 in 2 people within Ireland will receive a cancer diagnosis. It is because of this information that it is even more prevalent that we educate ourselves on steps we can take to be sun smart. Skin cancer may be the most common cancer in Ireland but it is also one of the most preventable. Early detection is vital. If spotted early up to 90% of cases are curable. In order to protect ourselves, we first need to understand what is skin cancer, who is at risk of developing it and what can we do to reduce our risk of developing it.
What is skin cancer:
Firstly, there are different types of skin cancer with non-melanoma being the most common.
Skin cancer occurs when the body does not repair damage to the DNA inside skin cells, allowing the cells to divide and grow uncontrollably. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the number-one cause of skin cancer as these UV rays damage the DNA in cells. However, sun beds also give off UV rays. There are two types of UV light that passes through the ozone layer, UVA and UVB. Both are harmful. We can’t feel UV rays, the heat we feel from the sun is produced by infrared rays (heat rays) which does not cause burning. Therefore our skin can be damaged on cool, cloudy days and not just hot days. Therefore we need to protect our skin year round as skin cancer can take from 20 to 30 years to develop.
Who is more at risk of developing skin cancer:
- Skin type – There are six different skin types. Three in every four people in Ireland have skin types 1 or 2. This is skin that burns and does not tan or burns before it tans.
- Outdoor workers who spend most of their working day outdoors i.e. farmers, construction workers, gardeners and fishermen.
- Having a history of severe sun-burns, especially as a child.
- Recreational outdoor activities i.e. playing sports, surfing, hiking and cycling
- Sun-bed users.
- People with pale or freckled skin.
- People with fair or red hair.
- Having a history of skin cancer in your family.
- Having many moles (50 or more).
- Age, risk increases with age due to accumulated exposure to UV radiation.
What can we do to reduce our risk of developing skin cancer:
- Sun protection
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB.
- Choose a sunscreen with an SPF(sun protection factor) of 30+. McCauley Health and Beauty have a wide variety of sunscreens that can help keep you safe in the sun.
- Check sunscreen use by date before applying.
- Apply a water resistant sunscreen.
- Apply sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before going outside.
- Don’t forget to apply to hands and feet.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, regardless of the SPF or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.
- Check your skin every month for changes such a mole changing in size shape or colour.
- Speak to your pharmacist or doctor if you are worried about any changes to your skin.
- Don’t use sun beds. Using a sunbed even once before the age of 35 increases a person’s risk of developing skin cancer by 59%.
- Wear protective clothing, sunglasses with UV protective lens and a hat.
- Use self tanning products to achieve tanned skin rather than expose yourself to harmful UV rays.
These are just a few helpful tips and tricks to keep you safe in the sun. Our Pharmacists are always available to answer any questions you may have so feel free to stop into your nearest McCauley Pharmacy. Please join us in wishing Melanie well on her journey to the crown and the title of Miss Universe Ireland!