14 May 2018
There may be clouds in the sky but that doesn’t mean your skin is safe!
That’s the message skin experts are hoping to get across as summer approaches and people start shedding their shirts in an attempt to get their annual sun tan.
With Sun Awareness week taking place from 14 to 20 May, dermatologists are taking the opportunity to highlight the dangers of spending too much time in the sun.
And they are keen to point out that it doesn’t have to be ‘a scorcher’ before people should start taking protective action.
“When the sun is blasting down everyone knows the drill by now,” explained Dr Crichlow a consultant dermatologist at Spire Harpenden Hospital.
“The danger is when there is cloud cover or a breeze that is making everything appear cooler. Clouds reduce the amount of ultraviolet A and B radiation that reaches the earth's surface and our skin, but they don’t stop the damaging rays. Clouds block more visible light than ultraviolet radiation,” she explained.
“Admittedly there will be ‘summer days’ when it is pouring it down with rain and the clouds are so thick and grey that your umbrella and raincoat should give all the cover you need but, basically, if you can see without artificial light, there is sufficient UV radiation and your skin is in danger.”
Government figures show skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK and rates continue to rise with at least 100,000 new cases diagnosed each year resulting in approximately 2,500 people deaths.
So how do you apply sun cream? A recent British Association of Dermatologists survey showed that 70% of people were not applying sun cream adequately. Dr Crichlow advises “sun cream (at least factor 30) should be applied at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and then reapplied every two hours.
Dr Crichlow added: “In the case of young children if it is warm enough for them to be playing out in shorts and tee shirts then the sun is usually strong enough to merit covering them in a protective cream or lotion. Please don’t forget that the sun is at its most intense between 11am and 3pm.”
“It is always better to be safe than sorry and my advice would be that if you are outdoors in summer take care. Just because you can’t feel the burn doesn’t mean you aren’t burning!”
Top tips for looking after your skin in the sun
- Wear protective clothing – the tighter the weave the better the protection.
- Use SPF 30+ /broad spectrum UVA sunscreen and re-apply every two hours.
- Never use sunscreen to increase the amount of time you can spend in the sun.
- Wear on a wide brimmed hat that covers your ears and the back of your neck.
Dr Sharon Crichlow is a Consultant Dermatologist at Spire Harpenden Hospital who sees the full range of skin diseases in adults, specialising in skin lesions and moles, and treats inflammatory skin conditions, allergies and skin cancer. With regular clinics available at Spire Harpenden, Dr Crichlow provides a confidential and comfortable environment for all her patients.
To book with Dr Crichlow or any of our consultants, please call 01582 787 618 or visit her page on the website www.spireharpenden.com