I got addicted to sunbeds to clear my eczema but was left battling killer cancer

A WOMAN who got addicted to sunbeds was relieved it cleared her eczema – until she was told she had skin cancer.

Daniella Bolton, 24, thought the tanning beds were good for her skin, and was getting the added bonus of a tan.

The 24-year-old 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.

When she read UV light is a treatment for eczema, given in a hospital setting, she didn’t see the harm in trying the DIY way.

Phototherapy, using UV light, can be used as a last resort for eczema treatment, prescribed by a doctor.

Experts say high street sunbeds are not the same and are often too strong.

At her wit’s end, Daniella slathered on tan accelerator and hopped on sunbeds twice-weekly for up to 12 minutes at a time.

The then 18-year-old, from Edinburgh, Lothian, said: "Obviously by doing that I would get a nice tan as well, which I was quite happy about, so I just kept going.

 "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.”

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 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 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?'”

Daniella was with her nana, Linda Bolton, 65, during the shopping trip in February 2017, and called her in to take a look at the mole.

Initially thinking it was just a spot, Daniella brushed it off. But when it failed to clear up she visited her GP in April.

She said: “They weren't 100 per cent sure and referred me to a dermatologist [in May].

"They did a biopsy on it and a few weeks later I got the results, it was very upsetting.”

Daniella was given the devastating news that the mole was cancerous and she had melanoma.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, but not the most common.

Still, around 16,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year, and six Brits die from it every day.

According to Cancer Research UK, melanoma skin cancer risk is 16-25 per cent higher in people who have used a sunbed – which is why The Sun's Fabulous campaigns against Dying For a Tan.

Daniella said: "When I heard the word 'melanoma' I became really distressed and I questioned my whole life. 

"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."

Sunbeds: Are they safe and can you use them for eczema?

Sunbeds give out ultraviolet (UV) rays that increase your risk of developing skin cancer, both skin cancer (melanoma) and skin cancer (non-melanoma).

Many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun, the NHS says.

The NHS warns that sunbeds are most dangerous 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.

They can also cause your skin to age prematurely, making it look coarse, leathery and wrinkled.

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.

Sunbeds for eczema

Phototherapy, which uses UV light, is prescribed by a doctor as a treatment for eczema in people who have tried everything else.

Natural sunlight can help reduce symptoms in eczema for some people by reducing the inflammatory response in the skin, the National Eczema Society says.

But it says: "Sunbed sessions in tanning salons are not the same as phototherapy treatments given in hospital.

"The high street tanning industry is unregulated – you will not know the amount of UV exposure you are receiving and your skin cancer risk will increase."

There is a risk of getting cancer by using phototherapy.

Daniella underwent an operation at St John's Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, in July 2017 to remove the cancerous tissue.

She also had another biopsy taken from the lymph nodes to check the cancer had not 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.

She 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."

After her cancer ordeal left her 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”. 

She 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.

"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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