Summer is in full swing and many of us will be taking advantage of the fantastic weather to get outdoors. While it’s wonderful to be out enjoying the sunshine, it’s also important to be mindful of the effects the sun can have on your skin and know what you can do to mitigate the risks.
Reducing sun exposure and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen can go a long way toward reducing the risk of skin cancer, but for greater peace of mind you might want to think about getting checked by a skin specialist.
Read on to learn more about what makes New Zealanders vulnerable to skin cancer and the benefits of visiting a skin cancer clinic.
Skin cancer rates in New Zealand
As you may be aware, New Zealand has one of the highest incident rates of skin cancer in the world. There are approximately 67,000 non-melanoma skin cancer cases each year, and more than 4,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma annually.
The incident rate of melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer, is more than double that of the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. This is due to:
The strength of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that New Zealand receives
Low ozone levels
An outdoorsy culture
How to check your skin
Given New Zealand’s high rate of skin cancer, it’s very important that you regularly check your skin. Unlike many other types of cancer, skin cancer is typically visible, which makes it easier to detect in the early stages.
Regular self examinations are highly recommended. Inspect your body and keep a close eye out for moles or skin patches that have changed in colour, size or texture. You should also look for spots or sores that bleed, itch, hurt or fail to heal within three weeks. Perform a self-check once a month and contact your dermatologist if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
You can also use your smartphone or mobile device to help keep track of your skin. There are a number of apps available for both Android and iOS that allow you to take photos of your skin and monitor lesions. While these apps may be useful tools for monitoring your skin at home, they should not be used to replace professional, comprehensive checks by expert skin specialists.
The benefits of seeing a skin specialist
While self examinations do play an important role in detecting potential skin issues, you should also visit a skin cancer clinic at least once a year (and more frequently if you have a history of skin cancer).
Everyone in New Zealand should get regular professional skin checks. They are particularly important if you had any bad sunburns as a child, are over the age of 50, or if there’s a history of skin cancer in your family.
There are a number of advantages to visiting a skin cancer clinic:
1. Early detection
The biggest advantage of seeing an experienced skin specialist is that it could save your life. Skin specialists combine state of the art technology with extensive experience to examine the skin much more thoroughly than you can achieve at home with the naked eye. This is crucial as early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment.
2. Monitor changes in the skin
A skin cancer clinic can also monitor your skin on an ongoing basis to see if there are any changes that may require attention. Here at the Skin Centre, our specialists map your skin using a high definition camera and provide you with a copy of the images so that you can conduct self examinations in between checks. We’ll also use a dermatoscope (an instrument that allows specialists to inspect skin lesions without being obstructed by surface reflections) to investigate the structure of lesions that may be at risk of evolving into cancer
3. Greater peace of mind
Lastly, seeing a professional skin specialist provides you with greater peace of mind. Even if you’re not worried about moles or skin irregularities, it’s a good idea for all New Zealanders to have their skin regularly checked by a professional. Our specialists will check you out from top to bottom, clearly explain their findings and recommend the best course of action moving forward.
Contact your local skin cancer clinic
If you’re overdue for a skin check, we’d love to hear from you. With state of the art facilities and a team of expert skin specialists, the Skin Centre is the provider of choice when it comes to skin cancer treatment and appearance medicine.
Book a skin check today for your peace of mind by giving us a call on 0508 232 884 or email us at email@example.com.