How to Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer affects thousands of people in the UK every year. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for and a few tips on keeping yourself safe in the sun.


Skin cancer affects thousands of people in the UK every year. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for and a few tips on keeping yourself safe in the sun.

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with around 16,000 new cases of melanoma reported every year. Although very common, skin cancer has a very good survival rate if caught early and Cancer UK statistics say it’s preventable in around 86% of cases. So, what can you do to protect your own skin and help older or vulnerable people stay safe in the sun?

Know the symptoms

Get to know your skin! When you’re scrubbing yourself in the bath or shower, washing your face in the mirror or slapping on the suncream, take the time to notice what’s normal for your skin. And don’t forget to check over the bits that are harder to see, like your back. You can use a mirror or, if that’s too tricky for you, ask someone close to you to have a look for you.

If there are any changes, you need to keep an eye on them. Things to take note of include:

  • Changes to a moles or freckle – has it changed shape or got bigger, is the texture or colour different, are the sides irregular, does it itch, is it bleeding, scabby or painful?
  • Changes to a patch of skin – has the skin changed colour, has it changed texture e.g. become very smooth and waxy or irritated and scaly, does it itch or bleed?
  • New growths – have any new spots or lumps of any size, texture or colour appeared on your skin? If so, they need to be monitored closely.

Skin cancers are generally highly treatable if caught early but if left, can spread to other parts of the body and even be fatal. So, if you notice any changes to your skin that are out of the ordinary and don’t disappear within a few weeks, you need to get them checked out by your doctor right away.

Be safe in the sun

The best way to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer is to be sensible about exposure to the sun. While getting outside in natural sunlight is really good for us, we all need to make sure our skin is properly protected from those UV rays. That means:

  • Wear sunscreen – to get the best protection from your sun cream you need to think about more than just slapping it on. Choose the highest factor to protect your skin type, apply it liberally, evenly and regularly and wear it even on a cloudy day. You should apply sunscreen for protection whatever your skin colour too.
  • Limit your exposure – while it might be tempting to like and bake all day, try to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun, especially at the hottest times of the day when the UVA and UVB rays are strongest. As well as using sun cream, regularly cover up your skin with cool, loose clothing, wear a hat (your scalp can burn very quickly without you noticing) and spend plenty of time in the shade.

If we’re honest, we all know what we’re supposed to do, it’s just hard not to try and make the most of those rare sunny days here in Britain. But with skin cancer diagnoses on the rise, it’s more important than ever to take more care in the sun.

You can find out more about skin cancers on the Cancer Research UK and MacMillan Cancer Support websites.

If you’re living with cancer and would like to know how Bluebird Care Bromley’s domiciliary care services could help you live more comfortably at home, get in touch.