Summer is coming and while the promised heatwave hasn’t materialised, we are having plenty of warm, sunny days here is the UK. With hot afternoons in the garden, soaking up the rays and enjoying the health benefits of daylight and fresh air, there also comes the responsibility; it’s important that we don’t burn and keep our skin safe from the damage that causes not only premature aging but also puts us in danger of skin cancer. It’s a difficult balance, especially where children are concerned, because our best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight, but protecting ourselves from sunburn is vital.
A recent survey suggests that over two thirds of British people do not know the signs of skin cancer. The incidence of this potentially deadly disease has been increasing steadily over the last 2 decades with outdoor activities, foreign holidays and the desire for a tan all contributing to giving our skin more exposure to harmful rays than it can cope with. The British Association of Dermatologists expressed concern that many people do not understand that reddening skin is not part of the tanning process but rather a sign that irreparable harm has been done.
It’s important to remember is that sunburn is not a badge of honour and badly burned skin is unlikely to result in an attractive tan. Follow these simple steps to keep safe and build a gradual, healthy tan over the summer months:-
- Avoid the sun between 11am-3pm, when strong rays are at their most harmful. If you must be out at this time, wear a high factor sun cream and ensure you reapply it regularly, particularly after swimming.
- Hats are cool! On top of looking great and shading hard to protect areas of scalp skin, a hat will protect any tiny areas of the face that are hard to apply cream to.
- Build up slowly; going bright red is neither attractive nor clever so limit outdoor time to short periods of exposure during safe times of the day to prepare your skin for the middle of the summer. 15 minutes a day of unprotected arms, hands and face in sunlight is enough to top up vitamin D levels.
- Don’t get caught out by a cloudy day; UV rays penetrate cloud cover and can do enormous harm when you are not expecting it. Even a shady tree will not provide complete protection, though it will help.
- After Sun products can be used after either non damaging tanning or sunburn to soothe skin and prevent aging and drying out, nourishing the skin and resulting in a longer lasting, healthy tan.
If you do get sunburned, take a cool bath or shower in the first instance to draw some of the heat away from the burn and painkillers to reduce the discomfort. Make sure you drink plenty of water and moisturise but avoid picking skin or popping blisters.