Summer is now in full swing! And the sun is up, giving us our essential vitamin D (that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body), summer tans, and a big smile on all our faces. Many of us love the sun and cannot wait to get out in the lovely hot weather, but we need to be careful and learn how to stay protected in the sun at all times.
You may want to wear less clothing outside to catch a tan, but don’t be fooled into thinking sun tans are safe, experts say there is no such thing as a safe tan! The increase in melanin, the skin pigment that gives your skin the tan colour is actually a sign of skin damage.
Hats with wide brims are recommended by Cancer Research UK, and whatever type of clothing you decide to wear, a tighter weave of fabric will offer greater protection from Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) which can cause skin cancer. Clothing with sun protective fabric is also available; these clothes have special labels that tell you how effective they are in protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays.
If you are out in the sun and clothed, a nice dip into the pool or sea could also help you stay protected, as measurements done by the World Health Organisation show that there is less absorption of UV light when a fabric is wet.
Protect your eyes
Although our eyelids are there to protect our eyes, its skin is extremely thin and has numerous fragile tissues that may be injured by UV light. Excessive exposure to sun can also damage the parts of the eye that are designed to filter UV radiation (lens and cornea), which leads to eye diseases and vision problems.
Das-Bhaumik, Consultant Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon at the Moorfields Eye Hospital states that ‘’Eye protection by way of sunglasses or goggles is recommended to prevent damage from UV light, especially when we are exposed to UV light for prolonged periods of time’’. Cancer Research UK recommends looking for sunglasses that have any of the following: a ‘CE Mark’ and British standard, a UV 400 label, or a 100% UV protection written on the label or sticker.
Find some shade
More than 2,100 Britons die from skin cancer every year with skin cancer being the most common type of cancer in the UK. These statistics should hopefully encourage you to find some shade when out in the sun. You can stay safe in the sun by spending time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. This is one of the best ways to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
Outdoor workers should also have access to shade and be provided with all the necessary protective measures from the sun.
Cancer Research UK recommends to use sunscreens together with the other methods of sun protection to avoid getting too much UV exposure, especially at this time of year, as UV light levels are usually highest between May and September.
Use a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, is ‘’broad-spectrum’’ which protects the skin from both ultraviolet A and B light, and also use one with a high star rating with at least 4 stars. This is particularly important to remember as many people don’t realise that the SPF rating refers to the protection from UVB light, while a 5-star rating is used to show the protection against UVA light. Both UVB and UVA rays damage the skin and can cause skin cancer.
It doesn’t bring much joy knowing that something we all enjoy so much can be so harmful to our skin, but you can still enjoy the sun and be kind to your skin using the important tips above. Happy summer!