LONDON, May 15 /PRNewswire/ --

- With Photo

Today, members of the Women's Institute dispense clothes to urge people to check whether they have sun damaged skin. Merely covered by a beach towel the WI ladies, joined by well renowned GP and media medic Dr Rob Hicks, are determined to raise awareness of solar keratosis (SK) - a skin condition resulting from cumulative sun exposure and burning(i). These commonly occurring marks can appear as small raised rough patches (often pink, red or brown in colour) on the skin(ii). If left untreated, up to 1 in 10 can potentially develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)(iii) which is a form of non melanoma skin cancer. In light of new evidence that a quarter of Brits never check their skin for signs of skin cancer(iv) this national health campaign aims to encourage people to take a closer look at their skin.

Dr Rob Hicks advises, "It is currently not possible to tell which solar keratoses will develop into skin cancer, it is therefore vital to check the skin for any unusual marks and not to be frightened to seek advice from your GP. Solar keratosis is one of the most treatable forms of sun damage - consult your GP immediately about anything you are concerned about. There are currently various treatments for solar keratosis, including topical gels, freezing and scraping off the skin lesion."

Solar keratosis is primarily found in the older generation however we are now seeing an increase in younger age groups(v) particularly as more and more of us dedicate leisure time to overseas travel(vi). Clearly we are not paying attention to the numerous warnings of the dangers of the sun. The Suffolk West WI has pledged to reduce the number of incidences of solar keratosis in their region and they hope that the rest of the UK will follow suit. Pat Collinson, Chairman of Suffolk West WI said, "Awareness of this condition is key and it is vital to spread the word of how important it is to regularly check your skin, not only for moles, but for any unusual marks or changes and immediately consult your doctor if you have any concerns. We hope by raising awareness of this condition, we can prevent SKs being left untreated and turning into something more serious."

Sunny Tips from the WI(vii)

- Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight, especially between 10am and 4pm when it is at its strongest.

- Wear a wide brimmed hat and clothes that cover your arms and legs.

- Use sunscreen with a protection factor of 15 or higher.

- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are outdoors, even on cloudy days.

Sun-damage accumulates over time and it is a lifetime of sun exposure, rather than recent sunbathing that adds to your risk. Some occupations, such as the following, can also increase your level of risk: The construction industry, farming and agriculture, commercial gardening, forestry, road maintenance, lifeguards, professional sportsmen and women and outdoor interest/hobbies.(viii)

For further info please visit

Note to Editors

There are currently up to 100,000 cases of non-melanoma cancer in Britain every year(ix). Worryingly, evidence reveals that only 6% of the UK population know what solar keratosis is;(x)

We have case studies available to the media to complement feature articles. Dr Rob Hicks is also available to comment on SK and non melanoma skin cancer.





[iii] Dodson J et al. Malignant potential of actinic keratosis and the controversy over treatment. Arch Dermatology - Vol 127, July 1991


[v] Bruce C Gee & Richard Turner, Sebborrhoeic Keratoses - what You Need To Know. Dermatology in Practice, Vol 9 No1

[vi] Walker N Skin Cancer: a growing concern for people on the move. (Page 9) December 2004

[vii] Do you have sun-damaged skin? Leaflet. Provided by Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

[viii] Do you have sun-damaged skin? Leaflet. Provided by Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

[ix] Metro News - 'Global warming is increasing skin cancer' 20th April 2008

[x] Solaraze Skin Condition Study, (134813) 31st March - 4th April 2006. Prepared by TNS Omnimas

A picture accompanying this release is available through the PA Photowire. It can be downloaded from or viewed at or

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