Ageing, no matter how young you feel or look CAN bring health problems.

My previous posts have included writing about the MENOPAUSE and getting a DEXA SCAN. I also go to the wonderful Patrick Leahy of THE LASER CENTRE in Hume Street Dublin for various ailments. He has dealt with my Varicose veins, plantar faciitis, knee pain and much more.

Nearly 18 months ago, a strange mark appeared on my forehead. Initially, it looked like dry skin and then it became more red and raw.

So because it had lingered for over six months, I visited Dr Steve Karagiannis.  As well as being a GP in North County Dublin, he runs SKINCHECK clinics in various locations. From Australia, with a particular interest and training in early skin cancer detection, his approach is simple. He believes that if you are worried about a mole or skin lesion, you should be able to get it checked straight away. He had previously checked out and removed a non-cancerous mole of GG’s. A full body mole mapping only costs €100 for an adult and €70 for children.

Having examined it, he decided to burn it off using liquid nitrogen.

When I went back six weeks later, he was not totally happy, so he sent me for a biopsy.

I had my biopsy with the lovely Richard Hanson (or Mr Handsome as I am sure he is called) in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry, Dublin.

You are gowned up, name-tagged, prepped and wait patiently in a cubicle in the Day Surgery Ward. I suppose I was a little nervous, but eventually I was wheeled in my bed down to the pre-surgery waiting room. There probably is a proper name for it. My surgeon came into talk to me and to anaesthetise the area. He had decided to deal with three other sun spots while I was there. Soon after, I was wheeled into a very modern theatre. The procedure took less than ten minutes and I felt nothing. I wish I had asked if I could have taken some photographs of the procedure, but I didn’t!

Mr. Hanson and the team (yes, there was a team) kept me amused with their chat and questions about my daughter’s upcoming wedding. Stitched up, I was wheeled back up, got rid of the awful gown, got dressed and drove home.

The good news is that the biopsy showed that the lesion was pre-cancerous and caused by sun damage.

Perhaps the damage was done years ago when I lay in the sun covered in baby oil and thought the only way to get a good tan was to burn first. But I know that I do not pay particular attention to my forehead when applying sun cream, as I assume that my fringe protects it. Obviously not true!

 SUN DAMAGE

Now, of course, we all know about the effects of UVA and UVB rays on our skin and that both penetrate the epidermis (top layer) and the dermis (deeper layer).

It is the UVA rays that penetrate into the dermis where you find collagen and elasticity and when this layer is sun damaged, we get wrinkles sagging skin, hyper-pigmentation (dark spots) and the potential risk of skin cancer.

The amount of melanin in our skin determines how well we tan. (I obviously don’t have much, as I used to burn first).

But, when UVB exposure exceeds your skin’s protection ability, that’s where you run into problems and get into sunburn territory.

You won’t see this damage immediately – rather, it shows up as you get older.

While those with fairer skin tend to see fine lines and wrinkles showing up first, those with darker skin will see patches of pigmentation and uneven skin tone.

MOLES

We all have moles and although common moles aren’t cancerous, we need to be on the lookout for any changes. Check out THE SKIN CANCER FOUNDATION for more details , information and photos, or visit Dr Steve in one of his clinics in Dublin.

Most importantly, wear sunscreen all year around. I do, but as I said earlier, I did not always rub it into my forehead under my fringe. I am more careful now and I always wear a hat out golfing.

Because, even in Ireland we get sunshine.

I will be writing about more health-related issues in 2019 so stay tuned, as I try to live a healthier life.

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Hilda