Dr Elizabeth Baird, specialist dermatologist at Remuera Dermatology, discusses ways in which you can reduce your risk of developing melanoma. The risks of sunbeds are highlighted.
DR ELIZABETH BAIRD
As a teenager, it doesn't seem that melanoma is ever going to affect you, and it’s always really easy when you're older to know how teenagers should behave. But the sensible time when you could perhaps reduce your risk most is when you're in your childhood or in your teens. And being careful in your teens with sun exposure is very sensible. Every time you go outside into the sunshine, you are at risk of UV damage. Even on a cloudy day, care should be taken to avoid excess UV exposure. You can do a lot to protect yourself from melanoma. First of all, you must be careful in the sunshine. You must avoid being outside between 10.00 and 2.00, and try and have your activities in the morning, or in the late afternoon. You should always wear a hat, and always wear clothing such as a rash shirt or even a T-shirt. You need to wear sunblock. Sunbeds are very dangerous and should be avoided. When you have a sunbed session, you are exposed to large amounts of UVA, which is very damaging, and is completely crazy to use these – they should be banned. If you have already had sunbeds, number one is stop. If you want to be tanned, use a fake tan, there is lots available. If you are really concerned about your skin, go and see your doctor or dermatologist and have your skin checked. If something is changing, if it’s getting a big bigger, if it’s getting a bit lumpier, if it’s gone a funny colour, if you are at all concerned, go and get it checked. If you follow those rules, you should be giving yourself some protection.