The temperature is dropping – It’s certainly no longer t-shirt and shorts weather! The UK has started layering up as the short, cold, darker days are drawing in. With less sun exposure, it is often this time of year that people begin to ignore and neglect their skin. However, winter can actually be the best time to check it. As we know, skin damage from the summer months doesn’t show up overnight and can sometimes take years to manifest itself. It is important that your patients know that their skin is constantly changing and always vulnerable to dangerous UV rays, even in winter.

Spreading Awareness

Patients must be encouraged to carry out regular skin checks throughout the colder months (and higher risk patients should attend at least one comprehensive skin screening with their dermatologist). They also need to know what to look out for. Covering up during winter months, they’re less likely to see any moles changing in size or colour – or the development of any new moles. On the other hand, less sun exposure means skin cancer is easier to spot. When the skin reacts to sun exposure, it can appear ‘busy’ with stronger colours, marks or sun-burn showing prominently. Identifying a dangerous mole is therefore made harder, whilst in winter, the skin is calmer and suspicious lesions will stand out.Click here for our fantastic range of dermatoscopes or click here for our full body imaging machine.

Alert patients to the dangers

Whilst some patients know the facts of skin cancer and how rapidly it can become invasive, others might not be so aware. The overriding message to put across over winter is that skin cancer isn’t seasonal – and it can grow fast. It might also be worth mentioning that melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer of all, growing vertically into the skin at a rate of 0.49mm per month; the most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, which generally grows slowly; and that squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are less common, but they can grow fairly quickly, often with devastating results.

Protect for the future

It is commonly assumed that because it is winter, wearing sun cream isn’t necessary. This mindset can lead to harmful consequences, as whilst there is less UVB around during the colder months, levels of UVA are still significant enough to age our skin. Encouraging patients to apply a quality sun cream of factor 30+, such as the one from our Universkin range, is important. In particular, exposed areas such as the face, hands, lips and ears should be protected, especially when outdoors for an extended period of time. Hopefully with this advice, patients should be much more aware of what to look out for. Above all, stay skin-safe, wrap up warm and enjoy your winter!

October 12, 2021 — Toby Heath

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