Rising Temperatures leaving your scorched? Here’s some tips to beat the heat

Two of the three hottest ever temperatures on Earth were recorded this year. Furnace Creek in Death Valley, which has a population of 108, recorded an air temperature of 54.44°C on 9 July, topping the record it set last year (54.39°C). As a result, dermatologists are warning people to take even greater care of your skin and beware of the sun.

Global warming, continued use of fossil fuels and unsustainable practices has led to rising temperatures around the world. Two of the three hottest ever temperatures on Earth were recorded this year. Furnace Creek in Death Valley, which has a population of 108, recorded an air temperature of 54.44°C on 9 July, topping the record it set last year (54.39°C). However, the global population is in a rabid mood to get out and enjoy the outdoors following pandemic lockdowns and a tough few years socially. As a result, dermatologists are warning people to take even greater care of your skin and beware of the sun.

What is a tan actually?

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) warns: “A tan is actually a sign that our skin has been harmed by UV radiation and is trying to defend itself against further damage. This kind of damage can, in turn, increase your risk of developing skin cancer.” Most people think a tan is simply an aesthetic decision but the health consequences can be dire. BAD continues: “In more than four out of five cases skin cancer is a preventable disease.”

According to the Global Cancer Observatory, there were over 140,000 new cases of melanoma of the skin across Europe in 2018. The majority of these cases were due to extensive sun exposure and could have been avoided. People enjoying the sun and getting a tan can do so in a much more safely manner, especially considering the rise in temperatures. Below, we will be looking at advice, tips and tricks so get the sun but avoid getting scorched. 

Choosing the right sunscreen

  • There are two types of sunscreens you should be aware of: chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays and are easy to rub into the skin, whilst physical sunscreens meant for sensitive skin sit on the surface of the skin and deflect rays. 
  • Always opt for sunscreen that is SPF 50 or higher, especially considering the continued rise in scorching heat. SPF stands for ‘Sun Protection Factor’ and indicates how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn. The higher the factor, the stronger and better the sunscreen.
  • You should also look out for sunscreen advertised as ‘Broad-Spectrum’. The sun’s rays can come in many different wavelengths. A ‘Broad-Spectrum’ sunscreen protects the skin from Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays, both of which are proven to cause cancer. 
  • The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends using water-resistant sunscreen as most people don’t realise how quickly sunscreen can lose its potency when accidentally touched/mixed with water. This type of sunscreen is vital for beach or seaside trips and is often overlooked leading to unfortunate skin issues. 

The correct way to apply

  • BAD did a study that found “most people apply less than half of the amount required to provide the level of protection indicated on the packaging”. This leads to not enough protection being provided for the skin in a lot of cases and the use of sunscreen being irrelevant as a result. So, always apply generously or more than you think you need. 
  • The British Association of Dermatologists also revealed that “areas such as the back and sides of the neck, temples, and ears are commonly missed, so you need to apply it generously and be careful not to miss patches.” These specific areas are left out a lot and are subject to skin complications as a result. So, always make sure to get an even spread of sunscreen across all parts of the body to avoid any silly mistakes. 
  • Furthermore, not only do you need to apply more sunscreen, you need to apply it more often. BAD says “up to 85% of a product can be removed by towel drying, so you should reapply after swimming, sweating, or any vigorous or abrasive activity.” Curiously, “studies show that if you are right-handed you will apply more sunscreen to the right side of your face and to the left side of your face if you are left-handed.” – so, make sure you cover both sides of your body.

Make sure you remain sun-smart

  • Avoid the midday sun as this is when the sun is lowest and most likely to have a harmful effect on your skin. 
  • Stay in the shade when possible, wear a hat, sun-protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen and reapply sunscreen every few hours. 
  • A good rule of thumb is that the shorter your shadow, the more dangerous the rays of the sun; if your shadow is short, the sun is low and closer to you. 
  • Stay hydrated as you can lose a lot of water through your skin in the form of sweat.

The sun and scorching heat usually isn’t an issue in the UK but because of global warming, high temperatures are becoming a global issue. Whilst governments and populations combat this on a global level, we as individuals need to make sure we are protected well and correctly by sunscreen in the face of blazing heat. 

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