A pale eczema patient became “addicted” to tanning beds because she thought it was good for her skin – but was appalled when she was diagnosed with skin cancer.
Daniella Bolton, 24, had tried using a variety of creams to get rid of her sore and itchy skin but found that the few that worked didn’t have long-lasting effects.
At the end of her wisdom, the then 18-year-old was on tanning accelerator and hopped on tanning beds for up to 12 minutes twice a week after reading online how UV light can help.
After two years of regular tanning sessions, the sales manager discovered a small birthmark on her back while trying on clothes in the River Island locker rooms.
Daniella called in her Nana Linda Bolton, 65, who was with her while girls shopping to examine the tiny blemish, and went to the family doctor before being referred to skin specialists who whipped the mole for a biopsy.
A few weeks later, she received the devastating news that the mole was cancerous and that she had melanoma.
Scared and abandoned, “questioning her whole life”, Daniella stopped using sunbeds and now shares her ordeal to show that using them is “not worth the risk”.
Daniella from Edinburgh, Lothian, said, “I was addicted to sunbeds. I used to go all the time, probably two or three times a week.
“I would walk on her for between eight and twelve minutes at a time.
“When I heard the word ‘melanoma’ I got really desperate and questioned my whole life. I was like, ‘Oh my god, am I going to die? What will happen?’ I was so worried.”
Daniella started using tanning beds after reading about how UV light, used in phototherapy treatments, can reduce inflammation in the skin.
However, the NHS emphasizes that UV rays also increase the risk of developing skin cancer and that many tanning beds emit higher doses of UV rays than the midday sun.
After trying a number of lotions and potions, Daniella decided to try tanning beds and see if they could help.
Daniella said, “I used to have really bad eczema on my arms and legs. Over the years I have tried every doctor cream and lotion.
“Nothing really worked and if it did it would only work for a short time 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 tanning beds after reading about it [UV light helped eczema] on-line.
“Of course that would also give me a nice tan, which I was really happy about, so I just kept going.”
After sitting on the sun loungers for two years, Daniella discovered a tiny birthmark on her otherwise flawless back while shopping in February 2017.
At first she thought it was a job, but when she didn’t clear up she visited her GP in April, who referred her to the dermatology department at Lauriston Building in Edinburgh in May.
There Daniella underwent a biopsy and was devastated to learn she had melanoma.
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, sun lamps and tanning booths emit the same harmful radiation as sunlight. UVA rays make up about 95% of sunlight.
They can cause your skin to age prematurely and make it look rough, leathery, and wrinkled. UVB rays make up about 5% 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 tanning beds’ UV rays, how often you use the tanning beds, the length of your tanning sessions, your skin type, and your age.
Daniella said, “Shortly after my 20th birthday, this mole appeared on the top of my back next to my left shoulder blade.
“It wasn’t very big at all, it was deep brown in color and a little raised.
“I didn’t realize it until I was in the River Island locker room trying on a dress. I turned around and looked in the mirror and that’s when I saw it.
“I don’t have any spots, moles 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.
“You weren’t 100 percent sure and referred me to a dermatologist.
“They did a biopsy and a couple of weeks later I got the results, it was very annoying.
“I talked to my nana about it and kept saying to her: ‘Am I going to die? It was so unsettling.
“I had never heard of anyone my age who had it, I just started questioning everything. I was so worried.”
Daniella underwent surgery at St. John’s Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, in July to remove more tissue and do a lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer had spread.
Daniella said, “The birthmark itself was really small. I have a scar under my left arm where they tested my lymph nodes.
“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.”
After hearing that her results were clear, Daniella described it as “the best day” of her life.
Daniella said, “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 Daniella never goes on sunbeds and asks others to do the same.
Daniella said: “Sunbeds are a thing of the past now, I don’t go there anymore.
“I never want to go through this again, it was so horrible.
I am definitely a Reformed tanning addict. When I want to have a nice tan, I use artificial tan. Going on sun loungers is not worth the risk. “
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