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 May 14 to 20, 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 Joey Lai Cheong a consultant dermatologist at Spire Thames Valley Hospital in Berkshire.
“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 people deaths.
Dr Lai Cheong 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, you actually put kids in long sleeved tee-shirts and light, long trousers. 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 Joey Lai Cheong is a Consultant adult and paediatric dermatologist, specialising in skin cancer diagnosis and management; mole checks and mole removal; medical dermatology including eczema, psoriasis and acne; dermatological surgery and medical microneedling for acne scars. To book an appointment, call 01753 665 404 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.