The terraces, the pool, the seaside … This summer the French will be keen to make up for lost time, with the gradual lifting of health restrictions linked to the Covid epidemic, but beware of prolonged exposure to the sun, dermatologists warned.
Luke Solimowicz, MD, president of the National Federation of Dermatologists and Venereologists (SNDV), says on the occasion of Skin Cancer Prevention and Screening Week.
Because ironically, “although everyone knows that excessive sun exposure can be harmful, very few people protect themselves in practice,” he asserts.
No, UV cabins don’t “prepare” the skin for the sun, and the best protection “isn’t sunscreen, it’s clothing protection, no exposure between noon and 4:00 p.m., and wearing a hat and sunglasses,” the doctor sums up.
In addition to relaxing alertness in the face of the dangers of the sun, dermatologists also fear an increase in serious cases due to delays in diagnosis and treatment, after successive episodes of confinement.
If there are no accurate statistics yet on the period of Covid-related restrictions, dermatologists questioned by SNDV are recalling more patients who have postponed or canceled their consultations and say they are diagnosing cancer “a little more advanced” than before.
Skin Cancer Prevention and Screening Week, which usually consists of offering a free examination by a dermatologist, for example for a suspicious mole examination, should be canceled in 2020 due to the health crisis.
– Influencers –
This year, the entire process will take place online, with the creation of a website (https://www.sauver-sa-peau.fr/) and dedicated accounts on social networks. They will offer educational videos and an opportunity to ask dermatologists all questions about examination, self-examination and skin cancer prevention.
The process, which is supported by many cosmetic brands, will be based on lessons and discussions with “influencers” who specialize in skin advice.
SNDV in particular wants to encourage the French to practice “self-examination” regularly: “to observe carefully your bare skin from head to toe, face and back,” if necessary, using a mirror or closure,” not forgetting the little visible areas (ears, nails, soles of the feet and the spaces between fingers, genitals…)”.
What you should watch out for is the “rapid appearance or change of a mole or lesion,” explains Dr. Solimowicz.
When in doubt, a dermatologist can be consulted, in-office or via tele-experience at the request of a trained general practitioner, a practice that has been tried in three areas for several years and which has “experienced exponential growth since the Covid epidemic”.
80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in France each year, making it the “most common type of cancer,” according to SNDV. The most common cancers are not very dangerous in the vast majority of cases.
Other melanomas are more aggressive: “In a 50-year continuous increase, there are 14,325 new cases, including 1,773 deaths each year,” the union recalls.
The prognosis remains good if the melanoma is detected and treated at an early stage, not to mention the disease has already spread in the body (with metastases), hence the importance of early diagnosis.