At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 226

SAFEGUARD
YOUR SKIN
PIGMENT PROBLEMS RANGE FROM AGE SPOTS TO AWKWARD
MOLES. BUT WHEN ARE SKIN MARKS A CAUSE FOR CONCERN?

B

two treatments is all that is required,
and treatment is safe for all age groups
if used appropriately.

ack in the 1970s, fewer
than half of people
diagnosed with malignant
melanoma skin cancer
survived beyond ten years,
but that figure now stands at 90%.
While survival rates for skin cancers
have improved dramatically, early
detection and treatment are crucial.
Here's what everyone needs to know:

SHOULD I BE WORRIED?

'Age spots themselves are not precancerous,' says Dr Bav Shergill. 'But
they are proof that you have had a lot
of sun exposure and photo ageing.'
So, although harmless, age spots may
mean there is an increased risk of skin
cancer (see box opposite).

FRECKLES

MOLES

WHY THEY DEVELOP

Increased concentrations of melanin
in the skin cause freckles. Melanin is
the pigment that gives skin and hair
its colour. Freckles fade in the winter
and as a person ages. If they don't
fade in winter, they are likely to be
age spots (see below).

WHY THEY DEVELOP

Some people are born with moles. They
may also develop later, commonly in
early childhood, partly due to genetic
factors and sun exposure.

TREATMENTS

Some people love them, others not
so much. Creams such as Retin-A or
hydroquinone may help to reduce
their appearance, but they need to be
applied daily over a period of months
to achieve an effect. Use a high SPF
sun cream to prevent further
freckles appearing.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED?

Freckles themselves do not generally
develop into skin cancer. However, some
skin cancers may appear as a freckle, so
if one appears suddenly, changes in size,
shape or colour, or starts to itch or bleed,
it should be checked out.

AGE/LIVER SPOTS
WHY THEY DEVELOP

Photo ageing (getting older combined
with sun exposure) leads to age spots.
They are caused by an increased number
of melanocytes in the skin, which are
the cells that produce melanin.
226 | FEBRUARY 2018

TREATMENTS

There are several ways to reduce their
appearance, so consult a specialist for
the best option for you.
Chemical peels These can help reduce
age spots, but there is at least a week
of downtime afterwards, plus skin may
be red for a few weeks. And they can be
quite painful. Pelleve is an option - it is
a gentler form of peel.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) This reduces
dark pigment and evens out skin tone.
After treatment, there may be redness for
up to a day, the sun should be avoided
for a week and sunblock needs to be
applied for six weeks. Just one or two
treatments will give excellent results.
Pigment specific laser (such as
Q-switched Ruby or Q-switched
Nd:Yag) The area may be red and scab
over for up to ten days. Usually one or

SHOULD I BE WORRIED?

The vast majority of moles are harmless.
But moles can develop into melanoma,
which is a form of skin cancer requiring
urgent treatment. Dermatologists use
the ABCD rule to check for changes:
Asymmetry Is the mole the same
shape and colour on both sides?
Border Is the edge irregular or jagged?
Colour Has it changed colour or
become uneven?
Diameter Has it enlarged or is it
more than 6mm across?
If one of more of these apply, it is time
to seek advice from the GP. Itching or
bleeding can also be signs of concern,
and should be investigated.

WORDS KATHARINE KAVANNAGH, IMAGES: GETTY IMAGES

TREATMENTS

Raised moles can be removed surgically,
under local anaesthetic. Flat moles may
also be removed this way, or by laser,
but only if they are considered benign.
There is scarring involved in removal, so
unless moles are thought to be a cancer
risk or causing distress or discomfort,
they are generally left alone.



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