A 24-year-old eczema patient who used tanning beds because she thought they would stop her itching shared how her addiction left her with skin cancer.
Daniella Bolton from Edinburgh used the bed twice a week for up to 12 minutes twice a week for two years because creams were found to be useless.
But while shopping with her grandmother Linda, 65, in February 2017, the sales manager noticed a birthmark on her otherwise flawless back.
After being referred to a dermatologist by her family doctor, Miss Bolton was told that the birthmark was cancerous and that she had melanoma.
After undergoing a biopsy, Ms. Bolton is now cancer free and encourages others to use tanning beds, warning that it is “not worth the risk”.
Tanning beds emit UV rays, which in tropical countries can be stronger than the midday sun, leading to a higher risk of skin cancer.
Sunlight can help relieve the symptoms of eczema by reducing inflammation and itching. Therefore, phototherapy – the medical use of ultraviolet light – can be used to treat the condition.
However, it should only be used when topical treatments have not worked. And if recommended, it should be done by a doctor, not in a commercial tanning bed.
Daniella Bolton of Edinburgh was diagnosed with skin cancer after using tanning beds for up to 12 minutes twice a week for two years
She turned to tanning beds after unable to treat her sore and itchy skin with eczema creams
The sales manager from Edinburgh suffered from inflamed and itchy skin for years (left) and tried “every cream and lotion from the doctors”. But after using tanning beds twice a week for two years, she discovered a birthmark on her back (right)
Miss Bolton said, “I was addicted to sunbeds. I used to go all the time, probably two or three times a week. ‘
She started using them when she was 18 after reading that ultraviolet light can reduce inflammation from eczema that suffered on her arms and legs.
Miss Bolton said, “Over the years I have tried every cream and lotion from the doctors.
“Nothing really worked, and if it did it would only work for a short time and then flare up again and just not go away.
“It was really itchy and embarrassing.
“Of course that would also give me a nice tan, which I was really happy about, so I just kept going.”
ARE SUNBEDS SAFE?
Tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) rays, which increase the risk of developing skin cancer, both skin cancer (melanoma) and skin cancer (non-melanoma).
Many sunbeds emit more UV rays than the tropical midday sun.
For young people, the risks are greater. There is some evidence that people who are frequently exposed to UV rays before they are 25 years old have a higher risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Sunbeds, lamps and solariums emit the same harmful radiation as sunlight.
UVA rays make up about 95 percent of sunlight.
They can cause your skin to age prematurely and make it look rough, leathery, and wrinkled.
UVB rays make up about 5 percent of sunlight and burn your skin.
A tan is your body’s attempt to protect itself from the harmful effects of UV rays. Using a solarium for tanning is no safer than tanning in the sun.
It can be even more harmful, depending on factors such as: the strength of the sunbed’s UV rays, how often you use the sunbed, the length of your sunbed sessions, your skin type, and your age.
But when she was trying on a dress in a River Island locker room in February 2017, shortly after her 20th birthday, she discovered a mole on her back.
Miss Bolton said, “It wasn’t very big at all, it was deep brown in color and a little raised.
“I don’t have any spots, birthmarks, or freckles on my back, so it was pretty obvious to me.
‘As soon as I saw it I remember thinking,’ What is this? ‘ I was with my nana back then and got her to look at it too.
“When it didn’t go away, I thought I had to go to the doctor and have it checked out.”
When it was still not gone two months later, she went to her family doctor.
Miss Bolton had a biopsy in May.
A few weeks later, she was told that she had melanoma.
Miss Bolton said, “When I heard the word melanoma, I was really desperate and had questioned my whole life. I thought, “Oh my god, am I going to die? What’s going to happen? “I was so worried.
‘It was very annoying. I talked to my nana about it and kept saying to her: “Am I going to die? Will I be fine? “
“I had never heard of anyone my age who had it, I just started to question everything.”
In July of that year, she underwent surgery at St. John’s Hospital in Livingston to remove more tissue and do a lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer had spread.
The checks showed that everything Miss Bolton described as “the best day of her life” was clear.
She said, “The mole itself was really small. I have a scar under my left arm where my lymph nodes were tested.
“The scar on my back is a few inches bigger than the birthmark, but I’m just grateful that everything has cleared up again and that I didn’t need any further treatment.”
“I really felt like it was the best day of my life when the results were clear. I burst into tears with happiness because it was such a relief.”
Now Miss Bolton never goes on sunbeds and tells others to do the same.
After the mole was removed and tested, the medics determined that Miss Bolton was cancer free. She now has a scar on her back from where the birthmark was removed and a scar under her left arm that was used to test her lymph nodes
Miss Bolton said, “Sun beds are a thing of the past now, I don’t go any more.
“I never want to go through this again, it was so horrible.
“I’m definitely a Reformed tanning addict. When I want to have a nice tan, I use artificial tan. Going on sunbeds is not worth the risk. ‘
Lisa Bickerstaffe, a spokeswoman for the British Skin Foundation, told MailOnline: “77 percent of dermatologists agree that tanning beds in the UK should be banned altogether, according to a 2019 survey by the British Skin Foundation.
“Dermatologists’ opinions seem to support research suggesting that those who have also used tanning beds are more likely to develop skin cancers, including melanoma.
“We know that there is no safe tan from UV rays, so the British Skin Foundation, in line with other health organizations, does not recommend the use of tanning beds.”
MELANOMA IS THE MOST DANGEROUS FORM OF SKIN CANCER
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. This happens after the DNA in skin cells has been damaged (usually by harmful UV rays) and then not repaired, causing mutations that can form malignant tumors.
According to statistics from Cancer Research UK, around 15,900 new cases occur in the UK each year, with 2,285 Brits dying from the disease in 2016.
- Sun exposure: UV and UVB rays from the sun and solarium are harmful to the skin
- Birthmarks: The more birthmarks you have, the greater the risk of getting melanoma
- Skin type: Lighter skin has a higher risk of melanoma
- Hair color: Red heads are more at risk than others
- Personal history: If you have ever had melanoma, the more likely you will get it again
- Family history: If previous relatives have been diagnosed, it increases your risk
This can be done by removing the entire tumor section or by the surgeon removing the skin in layers. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, it helps them figure out exactly where the cancer stops so they don’t have to remove more skin than necessary.
The patient can opt for a skin graft if the surgery has left a discoloration or a dent.
- Immunotherapy, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy:
This is needed when the cancer reaches stage III or IV. This means that the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
- Use sunscreen and do not burn
- Avoid tanning outdoors and in beds
- Apply sunscreen for 30 minutes before going outside
- Keep newborn babies out of the sun
- Examine your skin every month
- Go to your doctor for a skin exam every year
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society