Spas in Ireland

Melanoma Awareness Month

By , May 2, 2010

We know it’s the most mortal of sins to speak ill of the fleeting good weather in this country.  We’re not trying to rain on your sun-deprived parade, we promise.  There is just something you need to know about our recent puce pandemic.

Our tendency for a national exodus to the great (or any) outdoors, slathered in baby oil and stripped down to the barely decent at the merest hint of a gap in the grey makes for a perhaps unsurprising fact: despite having arguably the worst weather on the continent, we still have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in Europe. 

This has led La Roche-Posay to launch Melanoma Awareness Month, a month-long skin cancer awareness campaign in Ireland, supported by the Department of Health.

The Facts
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, and 66% of us Irish are at a higher risk of developing this cancer because of our skin type alone.  The most serious form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is most typically caused by getting short bursts of the sun on only a few occasions each year…sound familiar? 

Melanoma is one of the rarer forms of skin cancer generally, but here in Ireland the number of cases diagnosed in 2008 was up a staggering 92% on the figures from 1998.  Unfortunately, malignant melanoma is also one of the few cancers that affect young adults.

Prevention is Better then Cure
While it may all sound pretty ominous, Melanoma Awareness Month is all about hitting home that 90% of skin cancers are completely preventable.  

Start with the sunscreen.  It should be worn all year round.  This is because while we may not see very much of them, 80-85% of the sun’s rays still get through those ever present clouds.  To make it easier to remember, try using make-up or a moisturiser that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 at the least. 

When the sun does shine, wear sunglasses, rimmed hats and loosely fitting clothing.  Seek shade between 11am and 3pm as this is when UV rays are at their peak, regardless of whether or not it is the hottest time of the day.  But be warned, you can still get burnt in the shade so lash on the sunscreen and reapply every two hours.

The same goes for your kids.  We get up to 80% of our sun exposure before turning 20 so keep them covered up when out playing.

Sunbeds are lethal.  Don’t use them.  It really is that simple.  There is a dizzying array of tans in a bottle available now.  We’ve all read the how-to apply them properly guides, you can get them reasonably cheap and most important of all, they won’t kill you.

Check Those Moles
Melanoma Awareness Month is about treatment as well as prevention.  Early detection is vital and most skin cancers can be treated if caught early.  Check moles or marks on the skin for any changes every three months or so and see a doctor if you have any concerns. 

For more information on skin cancer and a guide to examining your moles, see  This site has been set up especially for Melanoma Awareness Month by La Roche-Posay in association with the Irish Cancer Society, The Melanoma Trust, Eccles Clinic and Dr. Patrick Ormond with support from the Department of Health.


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