A Scots eczema sufferer became ‘addicted’ to sunbeds because she thought they were good for her skin – but was horrified to be diagnosed with cancer.
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.
At her wits’ end, the then 18-year-old slathered on tan accelerator and hopped on sunbeds twice-weekly for up to 12 minutes at a time after reading online how UV light can help.
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.
Daniella, called in her nana Linda Bolton, 65, who was with her during the girly shopping trip to examine the tiny blemish and went to the GP, before being referred to skin specialists who whipped off the mole for a biopsy.
A few weeks later she was given the devastating news that the mole was cancerous and she had melanoma.
Terrified and left ‘questioning her whole life’, Daniella quit using sunbeds and is now sharing her ordeal to show that using them ‘isn’t worth the risk’.
Daniella, from Edinburgh, 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.
After trying a number of lotions and potions, Daniella decided to try sunbeds and see if they could help.
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 a tiny mole on her otherwise blemish-free back during a shopping trip in February 2017.
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 nana 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 nana 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.”
Daniella underwent an operation at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, in July 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.”
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