Fear and uncertainty around Covid-19 has made many people averse to getting in touch with their doctor. Consequently, people's health is being neglected. That’s why Medical Director MATT EDWARDS is sharing some simple guidance on common concerns. In this third instalment: skin.
It might surprise you to learn that your skin is the biggest organ in your body. It’s constantly hard at work to keep you healthy. As well as keeping everything in place, it provides a protective barrier against various organisms (bacteria and viruses) and harmful ultraviolet light. It also helps you conserve water, and it plays a major role in keeping you at the right temperature by allowing you to sweat. Skin also helps you absorb sunlight which is needed to make vitamin D. Pretty impressive, right? As it plays such a vital role, and is the first defence for your body, it needs protecting and taking care of. Here’s seven tips for protecting your skin:
Limit time in the sun / take precautions (see 4 & 5) at the hottest time of the day (10am - 3pm). This is when the sun’s UV rays are the most harmful.
Take extra care if you’re at high altitude. The UV light is that much stronger in the mountains. Also, near water you can get sun-burnt by reflection from the water.
Beware of coastal breezes - they can cool you down and make you think the sun is less strong than it really is. The same goes in the mountains.
Remember a hat, sunglasses and UVA & UVB protection lip balm. Long sleeve / legged clothing, umbrellas and head-scarves can also be useful.
Use sun cream! Go for a factor 25 or above especially if you’re fair and freckly, 15 or so if you have naturally darker skin. Use it frequently, every hour or two if you are swimming, sweating or exercising, but remember it’s not as good as getting into the shade. Be careful to apply it everywhere where the sun can get to you.
Protect children from the sun. Childhood sunburns may increase the risk of melanoma later in life.
Don’t use sun lamps, tanning beds or artificial lights. Any tan is your skin’s response to damaging UV rays which can cause skin cancer.
It’s important to check your skin for suspicious moles on a regular basis. A helpful way to view and monitor moles is to think of an ABCDE+photo checklist:
- Border - being irregular
- Colour - being irregular
- Diameter - being over 7mm
- Evolving - any change in size, shape or elevation of a mole, or experience any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting
- Photo - with technology it is easy to keep a picture record of a skin lesion, next to a ruler or tape measure, and then compare it after a period of time to see if there are obvious changes.
If you have concerns that moles have changed and notice the above warning signs then get intouch with your doctor. You may even be able to have a remote consultation initially with your photos rather than being seen in a clinic to decide if you need to be referred on to a specialist.
Act, if you have health concerns, especially any I have covered, contact your Doctor for advice. They will be able to discuss your concerns in the first place and orgainse for examination or further investigation if and when necessary. Don’t ignore your health, or put it off because of the current Pandemic, act - it might save your life!
We offer Telemedicine and are happy to provide advice, support and direction on medical concerns whatever is happening and wherever you may be in the world.