Stay Safe in the Sun

THE UK weather is as unpredictable as ever – first there were reports of a drought leading to some areas of the country being imposed with a hose-pipe ban, then the heavens opened and the rain came non-stop.  With a four day bank holiday in June and Olympic madness throughout the summer, it is no surprise many people will be booking a holiday abroad to escape. And while the thought of getting a tan and returning home to show off our new sun-kissed look to our pale and pasty friends is often very appealing, doctors are urging holidaymakers to stay safe in the sun.

Despite the UK’s moderate climate, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with approximately 2,600 people losing their lives to the disease every year. In more than four out of five cases, sun exposure has been cause of the cancer developing.  Consultant dermatologist Dr Catherine Hardman offers the following advice: “Some people assume they can look healthy with a sun tan, however the truth is they are actually damaging their skin every time they lie in the sun and increase their risk of developing skin cancer.  “You should enjoy your holiday and time in the sun,” adds Dr Hardman who works at BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital in Middlesex, “especially the odd day of sun we get in the UK, but it is extremely important that we stay safe and protect our skin from burning.”

More than 70,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK, a high number from what could be a preventative condition. Here are some top tips to stay safe in the sun:

Apply Sunscreen

pic of suncreen bottle by comedy_nose

Use your sunscreen liberally and at regular intervals, making sure to cover all areas of exposed skin, including the back of the neck, top of the ears and the scalp. Get help from someone else for the hard-to-reach areas like your back and shoulders. A sunscreen with a high sun protection factor will help prevent the skin from burning and the damage that can cause skin cancer.

Wear More Clothes

Kaftan and hat by love Maegan

This may seem like an odd tip during the summer, but wearing a hat, sunglasses and putting on a t-shirt or kaftan to cover your shoulders and chest on the beach will give you more protection from the sun, without making you too hot.

Sit in the Shade

sunglasses by Stevendepolo

Where possible enjoy the sun from the shade, rather than sitting or walking directly in it. Take a large parasol to the beach and sit underneath this, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is highest in the sky.

Home and Away

women applying sunscreen to friend by Joe Shlabotnik

Remember the sun does come out in the UK as well. Take sunscreen to work with you and apply before sitting outside on your lunch break. On sunny days apply sunscreen to children before they go to school and give them a bottle, labelled with their name, for them to use before playtime in the yard.

Monitor your Moles

child in sun by Seide Tripp

If you have moles which are regularly exposed to the sun then make sure you keep an eye on them and report to your GP any changes in colour, size or shape or it they become raised off the skin or sensitive to the touch.

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