Dermatology is the medical speciality which treats diseases of the skin and of skin structures, such as mucous membranes, hair and nails, both in adults and in children.
In this field, Valais Hospital works in close cooperation with referring doctors, who are able to determine whether or not the patient is in need of urgent treatment in our Dermatology Unit, based in Sierre Hospital. While this is the preferred route for requesting an appointment (which will usually be given for within three to four days), you may also contact the department directly to arrange a consultation.
The Valais Hospital Dermatology Department is equipped with the latest technology for detecting melanoma, and also has a vast cooperation network at its disposal thanks to the CHUV, the HUGs and other specialists. Its aim is not to carry out research, but rather to assist patients in as efficient a manner as possible. By providing trilingual French-German-English consultations, the department can cater to the whole of the population and to any foreigners during their stay.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer among human beings in western countries. It is vital that you are extremely careful whenever you are exposed to sunlight. A few reminders and recommendations:
- Avoid being in the sun between 10:00 and 16:00, and apply effective sun protection, such as factor 50 sun screen lotion or appropriate clothing
- Monitor your skin and consult your general practitioner in case of any doubt.
- Cumulative sunburns in childhood are a major risk factor. We all have a ‘sun capital’ at birth, and this capital decreases with each sunburn.
- Lighter-coloured skin types, which burn but do not tan much, are at most risk. In Switzerland, most inhabitants have light skin. Carrying out open-air activities all year round, combined with living at a high altitude, where solar radiation is stronger, increases the risk of skin cancer.
- In the past, people often did not know about skin cancer and the effects of sunburns: it is therefore no surprise that Switzerland is one of the countries where skin cancer is most common.
There are two types of skin cancers: melanoma and ‘non-melanocytic’ cancers.
- A melanoma is a dangerous cancer that can metastasise if it is not detected early. It affects adults of any age and develops from the skin’s pigmented cells (melanocytes), and usually takes the form of a brown or black tumour. You should consult your doctor if you notice the appearance of a pigmented tumour or that an existing mole has changed in appearance.
- Cancers known as ‘non-melanocytic’ develop on the non-pigmented cells of the skin. They are strongly connected to the sun, in particular to cumulative exposition, and develop on the parts of the body that are frequently exposed to sunlight (face, back, hands). They mainly affect individuals aged over 60, but their frequency is increasing among younger people. These cancers are locally aggressive and only spread in exceptional cases.