The arrival of warmer weather usually means means sun, shorts, sandals, bathing suits, and bronzed skin by spending more time outdoors in the sun. However, no matter what time of year it is, it is important to protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in sunlight. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, and too much sun can increase your risk.
In 2011, around 115,000 people were diagnosed with skin cancer in the UK.
More than 13,000 of these cancers were malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Each year, around 2,000 people die from skin cancer.
Fortunately, most types of skin cancer can be prevented or successfully treated if they are found early. Protecting the skin from the sun can help prevent these cancers.
Sun exposure isn’t necessarily bad – it is a key source of Vitamin D. As with all good things, however, keep exposure in moderation. The ideal maximum is 15 minutes before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. Anything over is considered overexposure, and any exposure during midday – when the sun is at its harshest – should be limited (if not altogether avoided). Sun rays at this time of day are 10% UVB and 90% UVA: a combination that can cause melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
UVA vs. UVB Rays: What’s the difference?
- Rays used to be nondescript, and UV protection was generalised. More recent and in depth research has shown that there are two kinds of UV rays: – Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) – rendering standard sunscreens inadequate
- UVA radiation penetrates the skin more deeply and contributes to premature ageing of the skin and wrinkling
- Wrinkles and sunspots are largely caused by these rays. Able to penetrate glass and deep into the skin, these rays speed up the ageing process and contribute to – if not initiate – the development of skin cancers below the surface
- UVB radiation causes sunburn and plays a role in the development of basal and squamous cell skin cancers and melanoma. UVB rays cause sun burns and reddening. While UVA rays penetrate beyond the superficial layers, UVB rays damage the skin’s surface layers. Its intensity differs by time of day, locale, forecast, and season, but still holds potential in causing sun damage. These are the rays responsible for change in darkness of skin pigmentation, age spots, and the more common tumour that may ultimately evolve into cancer.
Be Safe in Sun. Sun Protection Tips:
Because most skin cancer is caused by excessive and unprotected exposure to UV radiation,
In addition to following these tips, dress to protect. Lightweight, cotton cover-ups along with a cap or broad-brimmed hat will act as shields from harmful UV rays.
- Use sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy. You should choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation, is water resistant, and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Other types of sunscreen may help prevent sunburn, but they will not protect against developing skin cancer.
- Apply sunscreen religiously. It’s a surefire way of protecting your skin. Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to allow time for the product to absorb into the skin; re-apply every few hours or as needed.
- Be careful around water, snow, or sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase the chance of sunburn.
- Moisturise with SPF. Applying moisturiser with SPF is essential regardless of the season. With the onset of warmer weather, however, consider switching your current moisturiser for another with higher SPF and lighter formulation to prevent sun spots, freckles, and early signs of ageing.
- Don’t skimp on eye creams and lip protection. Sun exposure will gradually thin skin and cause wrinkles. Protect the delicate areas of your face with appropriate creams and balms.
- Protect your hands and feet too. Your neck, chest, and hands are an instant giveaway to your true age.
- Keep babies younger than 6 months old completely covered and in the shade. It is very important to protect young children from the sun because getting a bad sunburn during childhood increases a person’s risk of developing skin cancer as an adult.
- Limit sun exposure between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest, and you should find shade.
- Protect your skin with a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat that shades the face, neck, and ears. Dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothing made with special sun-protective materials.
- Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
- Be even more cautious if you are taking medications that may make you more sensitive to the sun, such as specific types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antifungals, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapies.
- Avoid tanning beds or sunlamps. Using sunbeds before the age of 35 increases your risk of skin cancer by up to 75%.
- Boost your block with antioxidants. Skincare products containing antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and green tea can help reverse sun damage. Try serums vit. C suitable for all skin types to help boost your block.
In addition to following these tips, dress to protect. Lightweight, cotton cover-ups along with a cap or broad-brimmed hat will act as shields from harmful UV rays
Examining your skin regularly may help find skin cancer early, when there is the greatest chance it can be successfully treated. Perform an examination in front of a full-length mirror in a brightly lit room. It helps to have another person check the scalp and back of the neck.
With melanoma, the first sign is often a change in the size, shape, or color of an existing mole. It also may appear as a new or abnormal-looking mole. Most moles are not cancerous, but if you notice a mole that is changing, have it checked by a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the skin).
The “ABCDE” rule can help you remember these skin cancer warning signs:
Asymmetry: The shape of one half of the mole does not match the other.
Border: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
Colour: The colour is often uneven with shades of black, brown, and tan. You may also see areas of white, grey, red, or blue.
Diameter: The diameter is usually larger than six millimetres (the size of a pencil eraser) or has grown in size.
Evolving: The mole has been changing in size, shape, colour, appearance, or growing in an area of previously normal skin. Also, when melanoma develops in an existing mole, the texture of the mole may change and become hard, lumpy, or scaly. Although the skin may feel different and may itch, ooze, or bleed, melanoma usually does not cause pain.
Make the healthy switch. As tempting as it is to lie in a tanning bed or sunbathe to get the ever-covetable summer skin, make the switch to self-tanners to achieve that colour without yielding yourself to the dangers of overexposure. Try a sun-less tan to build colour gradually and, most importantly, healthily. (Beauty Tip: Our faces will always be a shade or two lighter than our body; to build colour on your face as well, alternate between a tinted moisturiser and a facial self-tanner to achieve an even wash of sun-kissed colour).