Slap on that sun cream and arm yourself with sunglasses and a sensible hat for Sun Awareness Week (5-11 May)
Sunshine – just a smidgen of it is enough to put a smile on the face of most UK residents during the summer. But although it can often feel like we have a sunshine drought in Britain, somehow there are a staggering 100,000 new cases of skin cancer in the UK every year, according to the NHS. So with this in mind, health experts at the British Association of Dermatologists organise the annual Sun Awareness Week to help promote safe fun in the sun.
The campaign teaches people to self-examine themselves for skin cancer, the dangers of sunburn, excessive tanning and sun bed use. Although, to be fair, antiques expert David Dickinson’s mahogany hue is enough to put most people off sunbeds for life!
Who is most at risk?
Although anyone can develop skin cancer, you are more likely to develop it if you have:
- A history of sunburn
- Fair or red hair
- A family history of skin cancer
- Fair skin that burns easily
- Lots of freckles or moles
- Light coloured eyes
How can I stay safe?
Most skin cancers are caused by over exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun or sunbeds. So if you are heading to a sun-drenched location this summer such as the Costa del Sol, take note of these handy tips.
- Stay in the shade when possible and cover up with clothes
- Try to avoid the hottest hours of the day between 11am and 3pm
- Wear a hat to protect your face and scalp, and sunglasses to protect your eyes
- A sun protection factor (SPF) sun cream of at least 15 is recommended by the NHS
- Apply sun cream 15 minutes before getting in the sun and reapply every two hours
- Remember to use a waterproof sun scream if you’re going in the sea or a swimming pool
- Babies and children need extra care as their skin is more sensitive than adult skin
- The British Association of Dermatologists advises against the use of sunbeds and sun lamps
What do I do if I get sunburnt?
Turning a shade of lobster pink has happened to most of us at some stage, so here are some tips should this happen to you.
- Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol will reduce pain and swelling
- Gently sponge sore skin with cool water before applying calamine lotion
- Seek medical help if your skin blisters badly or you feel unwell
- Avoid the sun until your skin has completely healed
Check your skin
Health professionals say that you should check your skin regularly for abnormalities because early diagnosis can improve the chances of successfully beating skin cancer. Use this online mole-checker to see if you have a cancerous mole.
For a list of skin cancer signs, visit the NHS or for more information about being sun smart you can visit Cancer Research UK. A number of sun safety questions and answers are also available on the NHS website.