It’s Monday morning, the children are half out the door, someone’s forgotten their lunch, the…
Why winter is the perfect time for your annual skin check
As we pack away the swimmers and the towels in favour of our woollies, unless you’re migrating north for the Winter, baring your skin might seem like an odd thing to do. No, we’re not talking taking part in the Sydney Skinny, rather we’re talking about baring almost all for your skin’s health.
Last month we talked about how to give yourself a DIY skin check and DIY checks, just like your monthly breast exam in the shower are a great habit to get into. We’d even suggest that you schedule it into your phone or diary for the same time each month. Say the 1st or the 15th or the 2nd Sunday, etc – just make sure you’ve enough time to do the job properly.
Did you know that your skin’s surface area is around 2 square metres – think width of a doorway (yes, really). And, if you’re like the average Aussie, you’ve probably got some existing lumps and bumps on your skin.
Now in a lot of cases, probably most, those lumps and bumps will be nothing more than benign cysts, the occasional pimple, a pretty boring mole, a cherry angioma, a freckle and/or a birthmark or two. In other words, these are the things that make us uniquely us.
However, skin cancer can also look like that too. Skin cancer can look like the most innocent marks on skin – unless you know – really, really know – what you’re looking for. For example there’s a kind of skin cancer that almost looks like a scar. It doesn’t have much colour, sort of white-ish like an old faded scar. And because it looks pretty ordinary, people might not notice it or might not think much of it. But this kind of skin cancer can be very invasive and require extensive surgery.
But of course, in Winter, because your skin is hidden under a layer of warm woollies an inch thick – often for close to six or more months – those things get left to their own devices, silently invading healthy skin tissue. Being hidden away for months at a time with no-one watching, is an ideal climate for skin cancer to thrive.
That’s why it’s a great idea to have a yearly skin check when the weather cools and you get out the jumpers. Maybe even put that in your diary. Winter also works well because you skill will have had a bit of time to recover from the harsh summer sun and settle back to its new (Winter) normal. When your skin is less traumatised in Winter also makes it easier to detect changes in size, shape or colour since your last skin cancer check. That’s rather win-win from your Dr’s perspective.
A professional skin cancer doctor won’t just check a spot or two. They will go over every inch of your skin, checking every lump, bump, blotch and splodge – magnified at up to 120x, making sure, they’re all just the ordinary things that when combined make you uniquely you.
Then once you get the all clear, regardless of whether your prefer style or comfort; colour or neutrals, you can safely rug up for Winter.
If you’ve got any worries about something you’ve seen on yours or a family member’s skin, you can call us on 9999 0336 (Northern Beaches clinic) or 9223 1608 (Sydney City clinic) if you work in town. You can visit us at www.nbscc.com.au
Dr Penny Yelf is part of the medical team at Northern Beaches Skin Cancer Clinic. She has almost a decade of hands-on experience as a skin cancer doctor. Penny’s passion is the art and science of detecting and treating skin cancer, which she gets to combine with her other love – caring for her patients. She also has two young children and understands the wonderful craziness that comes with being a mum.