Staying safe in the sun

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We’ve all had that moment when we strip down to our underwear and try on the swimwear ahead of Summertime. We take a look in the mirror and hope to be greeted with the image of a Grecian deity; instead, more often than not, we pick out our pasty skin and how the clothing does not quite “work” without a tan. In the age of Kardashians, tanned skin is revered and something we all strive for as soon as the first glimpses of summer come around.

Tans are often perceived as more attractive, but what is the cost of the golden glow?

In 2015, Cancer Research UK reported 15,906 cases of skin cancer; the British Skin Foundation records that at least 100,00 new cases are now reported each year; killing over 2,500 a year, so around 7 people a day. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK and rates are still rising.

 One of the biggest causes of skin cancer is sun damage from excessive tanning. It is thought that around 90% of melanomas are caused by UV exposure; this includes exposure from both the sun and tanning beds. As for that theory of a base tan, the idea that slowly conditioning your skin to be sun resistance is also, I’m afraid, a myth. Being exposed to UV rays, for any period of time, can cause a melanoma mutation which can ultimately lead to cancerous cells developing.

So how can I tackle this?

Although tanning can be risky, it is essential for us to absorb vitamin D, and that comes from sunlight. Also, as Summer approaches, more of us will be grabbing our friends and gathering outside. Take these handy precautions and save yourself from falling prey to a nasty sunburn or worse!

  • Sun Lotion-This is an absolutely essential and should be worn at all times, even when foggy outside. Depending on skin sensitivity Factor 20 should be adequate for British Summertime; factor 30 for those few heatwave days. For those out there with tattoos, it is worth slathering on factor 50 to prevent damage.
    • Sun lotion should be reapplied every two hours, and if you go swimming, as soon as you get out of the water.
    • Don’t forget ears, nose, and lips!
  • Sun avoidance-Yes sitting in the sunshine is glorious but between 12pm-3pm on a 30-degree day, this is when it is at its strongest. Pip to sit in the shade during this time to prevent damaging your skin and burning.
    • If you have young children, it is essential they stay covered and hydrated at this time, as they will be more susceptible to burning.
  • Big hats and sunglasses-Not just a fashion statement! People don’t always realise that the scalp can burn, so if you have thin hair, a hat is your best friend.
    • Sunglasses-well these speak for themselves, protect your eyes from the dangerous rays!
  • Covering hard to reach areas-We’ve all had that moment, when we couldn’t quite reach the small of our back or shoulders and ended the day lobster red.
    • Make sure to have a loose jacket or shawl to place over your shoulders if you know you will be outside for a while. Better to protect than to heal.
  • Keep an eye on your moles! – You know your body best so keep an eye. If you notice a change in colour, width, texture or outline of a mole, or if it starts to scab or bleed pay a quick visit to your Doctor. Catch it early and removal is painless and fuss-free; leave it and it can develop.

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