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Sun Awareness Week is a wellbeing event organised by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD). The campaign is overseen by the BAD Skin Cancer Prevention Committee, comprised of leading medical professionals with expertise in skin cancer, vitamin D and public health messaging.
The awareness event aims to provide the public with information on both skin cancer prevention - encouraging people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer. And detection - teaching people about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning.
Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. In the UK, almost 9 in 10 cases of melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) could be prevented by taking the correct precautions and enjoying the sun safely, as well as avoiding the use of sunbeds altogether.
There are 2 main types of UV rays that damage our skin. Both can cause skin cancer:
We all need exposure to the sun. When we do so, our bodies make vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. There are also many positive effects that sun exposure can have on our mental health, as it can alleviate the symptoms of depression, as well as simply boosting our overall mood.
However, it is well known that too much exposure to the sun can cause lasting damage to our skin. Below, we have listed five sun protection tips to help you and your family stay safe in the sunshine this summer:
Sunscreen - The most common and easily accessible method to prevent sun damage to your skin is sunscreen. Make sure that you purchase a good quality sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB radiation, and has a minimum SPF of 30. If you know you will be encountering water, ensure that your sunscreen is water resistant.
Apply it properly - You should make sure that you apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you go outside. This will allow your skin to fully absorb the lotion. Reapply sunscreen to your exposed skin every two hours.
Sunglasses - Research has found that 5-10% of skin cancers occur on the eyelid. When buying sunglasses, look out for indicators of high quality and safe glasses such as the 'CE Mark', UV 400 label, or ‘100% UV protection’ written on the label or sticker.
Correct clothing - Darker clothes with tightly woven fabric will give you more protection from the sun. Look for clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) on the label. A UPF of 40 or higher means that your clothes will absorb or reflect at least 97% of UV light.
Hydration - Being dehydrated may not be as visible as sunburn, but it can be just as dangerous. If you are exposed to a hot climate, you are at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated and developing heat stroke. Avoid this by drinking at least 2 litres of water a day and try not to consume alcohol or caffeine.
By following our tips above, you will be safe in the knowledge that you are doing your best in protecting yourself and your family from harmful amounts of UVA and UVB radiation.
Remember, sun damage is cumulative - it builds up over time, particularly if you’ve had multiple severe sunburns. Damaging your skin now can possibly lead to health risks later in life.
If you feel as though you are concerned with your exposure to the sun, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call our helpline on:
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