Cover up to keep safe this summer

01 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 should know the drill by now,” explained Dr Stephen Keohane a Consultant Dermatologist and skin cancer expert at Spire Portsmouth 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 don’t stop the damaging rays. Clouds block more visible light than ultraviolet radiation,” he 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 the sun is shining then 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 deaths.

Dr Keohane 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.

“I would also advise that, particularly between 11am and 3pm when the sun rays are at their strongest, children wear long sleeved tee-shirts and light, long trousers. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.

“Take care if you’re outside in the summer, 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 at least SPF 30+ / broad spectrum UVA sunscreen and re-apply every two hours. Look for at least a 4 star UVA block rating on the back of the bottle.
  • 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

Find out more about Dr Stephen Keohane, Consultant Dermatologist at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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