A woman was left fearing the worst after a shopping trip to River Island made her realise something was wrong.
Eczema sufferer Daniella Bolton, 24, had tried using a variety of creams to clear her sore and itchy skin but found the few that worked didn’t have long-lasting effects, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Daniella, then 18, covered her skin in tan accelerator and used sunbeds twice a week for up to 12 minutes at a time after reading online how UV light can help people with eczema.
After two years of regular tanning sessions the sales administrator spotted a small mole on her back while trying on clothes in River Island’s changing rooms in February 2017.
Daniella called in her nan Linda Bolton, 65, who was with her during the shopping trip to examine the tiny blemish. She then went to the GP, before being referred to skin specialists who removed the mole for a biopsy.
A few weeks later she was given the news that the mole was cancerous and she had melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer that can spread.
Terrified and left ‘questioning her whole life’, Daniella stopped using sunbeds and is now talking about her ordeal to warn others about the risks associated with sunbeds.
Daniella, from Edinburgh, Lothian, said: “I was a sunbed addict. I used to go all the time, probably two or three times a week.
“I would go on them for between eight and 12 minutes at a time.
“When I heard the word ‘melanoma’ I became really distressed and I questioned my whole life. I thought ‘oh my god am I going to die? What’s going to happen?’ I was so worried.”
Daniella started using sunbeds after reading how UV light, used in phototherapy treatments, can reduce inflammation in the skin.
However the NHS stresses that UV rays also increase your risk of developing skin cancer, and that many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday sun.
Daniella said: “I used to get really bad eczema on my arms and legs. Over the years I’d tried every cream and lotion from the doctors.
“Nothing was really working and if it did work it would only work for a short while and then it would flare up again and it just wouldn’t go away.
“It was really itchy and embarrassing.
“When I turned 18 I thought about trying sunbeds after reading about it [UV light helped eczema] online.
“Obviously by doing that I would get a nice tan as well, which I was quite happy about, so I just kept going.”
After two years of hitting the sunbeds, Daniella spotted the tiny mole on her otherwise blemish-free back during her shopping trip.
Initially thinking it was a spot, she brushed it off but when it failed to clear up she visited her GP in April who referred her to Lauriston Building’s dermatology department in Edinburgh in May.
There, Daniella underwent a biopsy and was devastated to learn she had melanoma.
Daniella said: “Just after my 20th birthday this mole appeared near the top of my back beside my left shoulder blade.
“It wasn’t very big at all, it was a deep brown colour and was a wee bit raised.
“I only noticed it when I was in the River Island changing rooms trying on a dress. I turned and glanced in the mirror and that’s when I spotted it.
“I don’t have any spots, moles or freckles on my back so it was quite obvious to me.
“As soon as I saw it I remember thinking ‘what’s this?’ I was with my nan at the time and I got her to have a look at it too.
When it didn’t go away I thought I needed to go to the doctor and get it checked out.
“They weren’t 100% sure and referred me to a dermatologist.
“They did a biopsy on it and a few weeks later I got the results, it was very upsetting.
“I spoke to my nan about it and I just kept saying to her ‘am I going to die? Am I going to be ok?’ It was so worrying.
“I’d never heard of anyone my age having it, I just started questioning everything. I was so worried.”
In July Daniella underwent an operation at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, to remove more tissue and have a lymph node biopsy to check whether the cancer had spread.
Daniella said: “The mole itself was really small. I’ve got a scar under my left arm from where they tested my lymph nodes.
“The scar on my back is a good few centimetres bigger than the mole was but I’m just grateful that everything came back clear and I didn’t need further treatment.”
After hearing her results were all clear, Daniella described it as ‘the best day’ of her life.
Daniella said: “I genuinely felt it was the best day of my life when the results came back clear, I burst into tears of happiness because it was such a relief.”
Now, Daniella never goes on sunbeds and is urging others to do the same.
Daniella said: “Sunbeds are now a thing of the past, I don’t go anymore.
“I don’t want to ever go through that again, it was so horrible.
“I’m definitely a reformed sunbed addict. Now if I want a nice tan I’ll use fake tan. Going on sunbeds isn’t worth the risk.”
Sunbeds give out ultraviolet (UV) rays that increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun.
The risks are greater for young people. Evidence shows people who are frequently exposed to UV rays before the age of 25 are at greater risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Sunbeds, sunlamps and tanning booths give out the same type of harmful radiation as sunlight. UVA rays make up about 95% of sunlight.
They can cause your skin to age prematurely, making it look coarse, leathery and wrinkled. UVB rays make up about 5% of sunlight and burn your skin.
A tan is the body’s attempt to protect itself from the damaging effect of UV rays. Using a sunbed to get a tan is not safer than tanning in the sun.
It may even be more harmful, depending on factors such as: the strength of UV rays from the sunbed, how often you use a sunbed, the length of your sunbed sessions, your skin type and your age.