Sun Awareness is the British Association of Dermatologists’ annual campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer. The campaign runs from April to September annually and includes Sun Awareness Week in May.
The campaign is two-pronged and combines prevention and detection advice. The first aim is to encourage people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer. The second is to teach people about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning, and to discourage people from using sunbeds, in light of the associated risks of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK and too much sun can increase your risk. Exposure to sunlight can also affect your eyes. Skin cancers are caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Protecting the skin from the sun can help prevent these cancers.
UV rays penetrate deep into the skin and damage cells. Increasing the risk of cells becoming cancerous. You can’t feel UV damaging your skin and it happens even when the sun doesn’t feel hot.
Getting sunburnt causes the top layers of skin to release chemicals that make blood vessels swell and leak fluids. Skin turns red and feels hot and painful with severe sunburn leading to swelling and blisters.
After you’ve been sunburnt, the skin peels to get rid of damaged cells. Eventually, it will heal and look healthy, but permanent damage may have already been done. Some experts believe that just one episode of blistering sunburn before the age of 20 can double your chance of getting malignant melanoma.
Sun damage doesn’t just happen when you’re on holiday in the sun. It can happen when you’re not expecting it, for example when you go for a walk or sit in your garden. Here are some tips to help keep safe:
- Stay in the shade at the hottest point of the day – usually between 11am and 3pm in the UK
- Make sure you never burn by regularly applying at least factor 15 sun cream
- Try to ensure you are covered up where possible with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses
- Remember to look after your children’s skin needs, they will require extra protection. The best way to do this is to cover them up and keep them in the shade.
The Biritish Association of Dermatologists has created a UV app for daily updates on the UV levels across the world. This is helpful then for summers both at home and away.
The free app, available on both iPhone and Android operating systems, uses GPS to pinpoint your location and provide you with relevant UV information. In addition the app will educate you on your skin type and provide you with best practice advice on protecting your skin from the sun.
For more information on self-care in the sun visit http://www.bad.org.uk/