Health & Beauty

Moley, Moley, Moley!

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So – it looks like the Summer has finally left the building!  Sad times.

I’ve always adored the sun.But the sun hasn’t always adored me.

Looking back at my teens, I can’t believe how ignorant (cue South Park Michael Jackson voice)  we were regarding the sun and its power.

Like most of my generation, I used to go on holiday, rocking Factor “0” Oil and worshipping the sun from morning till night, returning a full mahogany!  I never went as far as some of my mates who actually lay on tin foil for the reflection but had I continued my habits,  I’d be bearing more than a passing resemblance to Something About Mary’s Magda rIght now!  Shockingly, aged 15,  I burnt my forehead so badly that it totally peeled, leaving a white strip on my otherwise David Dickenson appearance. Yup – not a good look, nor big OR clever!  Amazingly, 15 years later a skin specialist in London could see the permanent damage that experience caused. Scary stuff.

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These days – I couldn’t be more careful.  I always wear a minimum of a factor 30 on holiday (tested some Clarins bits this year and LOVED them, especially the multi-tasking Radiant Oil SPF 30 Spray – a gorgeous plant-based oil protection which smells exotic and divine and  can also be used in your hair ), I wear an SPF 50 on my face 365 days of the year and on one of those days I head to The Mole Clinic on London’s Argyll Street for my annual check-up.

I first looked into the service a few years ago, when another mole removal on my arm totally freaked me out and I was keen to keep on top of things.  I researched an annual service in Australia called mole-screening, routinely offered there as part of their NHS, but I guess over here it’s just not seen as a priority for our over-stretched system.   Here, the only NHS option is go to your GP when you spot something suspicious, but as my recent experience showed me, this system is flawed.

When it comes to mole screening, there’s always an element of leaving your pride at the door but frankly, once you’ve had 2 kids and the world and his wife examining your lady garden on a regular basis during pregnancy, stripping down to your knickers and bra is the least of your worries (even when you DO always seem to realise at the last minute that your underwear doesn’t match AND you forgot to shave! #fail)

Thankfully, it’s a clinic, not a Victoria’s Secret catwalk and the amazing nurses aren’t in the least bit interested as they set about examining EVERY single mole under a magnifying glass.  And I mean EVERY one!

But here’s the weird thing.

I’d always thought I was pretty good at looking at my moles and would follow the NHS advice of heading to the GP if I was concerned about one.  But what’s worrying is that every single mole I’ve ever deemed dodgy looking?  100% fine to the trained eye. So the bigger moles on my shoulders?  Nope.  Absolutely fine.

BUT the TINIEST mole you’ve ever seen on my tummy?  The one I didn’t even know I had?  Dodgey.  So going to the GP when you see something suspicious wouldn’t have worked for me.

IMG_4656Once the Mole Clinic had detected the mole, photos were taken, NHS referrals were made and within 6 weeks I found myself heading to Oxford’s Churchill Hospital to have said mole removed, before it could grow and do some damage.  It was done under local anaesthetic, I didn’t feel a thing and I was in and out in an hour.  So the whole process didn’t need to be private, but I’m glad I got a private diagnosis and referral in the first place.

But the scariest thing of all?  If I didn’t get my moles checked every year, I’d have NO idea that mole was a bit dubious and needed to come off.  I truly hadn’t even clocked there was a mole there, it was barely visible to the naked eye.  And melanoma needs to be caught EARLY.  Had it been left to grow and get big enough that I’d actually notice it?  Who knows what my prognosis would be now?

So do it.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Yes it costs. Yes I’m sure you have a million other things to be doing with your money, but I truly don’t think you can afford NOT to go.  And all referrals after the screening are back to the NHS, of which I’m a huge fan. To be clear, I don’t have private healthcare and this is one area I’m forced to go it alone, but I see it as a priority.

GET CHECKED.  It makes TOTAL sense.

Meanwhile, get yourself here to the British Association of Dermatologists website to check out everything you need to know about sun safety and checking your moles.

K x

 

30 Comments

  • Reply Rachael August 27, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Definitely some food for thought here.
    I am obsessed with sun cream now I have kids. In the summer I always slather them in SPF50 (much to their disdain) and myself in SPF30 – I only wish I was more careful in my teens. Hubby often jokes about me being OCD about it, but I think it’s so important that my kids understand it’s important! I never get moles checked though, I should seriously think about this. X

    • Reply Katy August 31, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      You’re so right – it’s so important! They’ll thank you one day (once they stop squirming to get away!) x

  • Reply Sarah August 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    For goodness sake…look here:-

    http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Cirencester-Rugby-player-Ashley-Scrivens-died/story-22816355-detail/story.html

    …Just 24 years old…tragic.

    • Reply Katy August 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      That’s the SADDEST story. 24? Wow x

  • Reply Donna@MummyCentral August 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Oooh you’ve given me something to think about. I remember a holiday when I was 17 when I foolishly sunbathed all day with barely a drop of suncream on. The sunstroke left me sick for two or three days after, sitting in the shade feeling sorry for myself. Why did we do it?

    • Reply Katy August 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      I know. Why, why, why? I guess we knew no better. 🙁

  • Reply Katrina August 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Such a great article Katie. I grew up in Borneo, surrounded by loadsa Oz folk, so had the motto ‘slip, slap’ slop’ drilled into me from an early age. & due to the climate would leave the house daily with SPF on. When we returned to the UK i was gobsmacked by the naivety of people here, with their attitude towards sun protection: Apparently ‘the sun in the UK isn’t the same as when you are abroad?’ I kid you not, was the response i had when i asked people why they didn’t wear spf (or worse, baby oil) in the sun. I’m blessed with olive skin, which tans easily but i still strictly use an SPF (with UVA & UVB) whenever in the sun (& as routine a factor 30 on my face year round). I’ve never been to a mole clinic, but it’s something i really want to look into doing-especially after reading this.
    So great for you to use your ‘status’ (if i can say that?) & your blog to raise this kind of awareness.
    🙂 xx

    • Reply Katy August 26, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      You’re SO right! We’re SO naive over here. My kids get bored of me drumming it into them! And never feel like I have a “standing” on here! It’s just ME! Mum – muddling through! (And often failing!) xx

  • Reply Kate Pick August 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Fabulous advice Katie! Especially regarding the importance of high-factor sunscreen. Reputable clinics are a good idea but do remember that if you’re not in a position to pay for mole screening that your GP will look at any mole and will make the necessary referrals at no cost to you.
    I went to my GP two years ago with a concern and was referred to the Churchill immediately, I had the mole removed the same day, the consultant checked every single mole on my body at the same appointment.

    • Reply Katy August 26, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Totally agree. Although if I’d waited to see a GP because I thought it looked dogey – I’d still be waiting! I didn’t even know I had a mole there! So that system doesn’t really work. I know it’s around £150 per year, but I don’t think that’s expensive for what you get. I’d gladly go without other luxuries in favour of this. And all referrals are to the NHS – so after detection, you get referred and then you’re in the system xx

  • Reply Michelle at Bod for tea August 26, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Eeek! I’ve got quite a few moles and never really thought to get them checked out unless they started mutating, oozing puss or generally making their presence felt – you’ve made me think seriously about having an annual check up now, just in case. Thanks Katy, great post x

    • Reply Katy August 26, 2014 at 11:49 am

      I know – and any I’ve deemed dodgy have been fine. Didn’t even know I had this one! x

  • Reply Becky August 26, 2014 at 6:02 am

    Gosh I have a lot of moles and would only have gone for a check if I thought they looked funny. you have really made me thinks. Thanks Katy

    • Reply Katy August 26, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Same here! That’s how I used to be xx

  • Reply Emma August 25, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Like you I wasn’t particularly careful with my skin when I was younger, but 7 years ago I had a Basal Cell Carcinoma removed from my forehead. Since then I’m super careful, wear factor 50 all Summer and for extra peace of mind I go to The Mole Clinic once a year. It’s so reassuring for me, I think they are fantastic.

    I’m so glad you caught your mole early. xx

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Wow. So glad all was OK for you. And you’re so right – it’s peace of mind as much as anything x

  • Reply Emma August 25, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    eik, timely reminder as number one son has a few I mean to get checked out. Glad all was spotted quickly and early.

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks lady. And yes – SO worth doing. It’s the ones you least expect x

  • Reply Seasiderinthecity August 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I’ve got so used to seeing the moles I have that I’m not sure I would know if they had changed. great advice.
    So got South Park in my head now lol

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      I’m with you – I have so many there’s no way I can keep track of changes. Love that episode too! 🙂 x

  • Reply Anonymous August 25, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Like you, I never worried about it in my youth – totally paranoid about moles and the like now, luckily never had any problems with them – although my dad had to have one removed recently – scared me shitless! Good advice to always get them checked!

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      I’ve had 2 removed now! And yes – get checked. SO important xx

  • Reply Aly August 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Now I’ve reached 40 I’m due for a health check.I have several large moles all over my body but I couldn’t say if I had any new ones.I’ll ask if they do that kind of check when I have my appointment.

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      My big ones were all fine but so worth getting checked x

  • Reply Michelle Twin Mum August 25, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Ohh scary, I had alwasy just heard the NHS advice to see the doc is they change shape, grow etc. Thanks for the warning. Mich x

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Me too! I’d always gone with that advice until a few years ago. SO pleased it’s an annual thing for me now x

  • Reply Emma August 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    And I need to go too… Thanks for the reminder. Just not worth taking the risk is it? Thanks Katie! xx

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Go go go! I know there are clinics all over the place that offer a similar service. So worth doing x

  • Reply otilia August 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    I do have a mole on my face that i need to check out sooner rather than later 🙁

    • Reply Katy August 25, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Get checked lady! SO not worth delaying xx

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