Summer Lovin'

15 Apr 2015 Chris James   Health and wellbeing

Risk-free fun in the sun

There's something about the great British summertime, and with a potential three-month heat wave on the horizon, we're more excited than ever. The bustling barbecues, the great garden gatherings and plenty of pool parties, it stands to be a truly great summer.

Unfortunately, the scorching sunshine brings with it certain risks; we're all aware of the links between the sun and skin cancer, and these correlations shouldn't be ignored. At least 100,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, which leads to the deaths of 2,500 people each year in the UK, and UV exposure is the most preventable cause of skin cancer. However, our sun care tips could prevent putting too much of a dampener on your summer plans.

Sun cream

There's really no excuse to ignore this golden rule. If you don't wear sun cream, then you risk burning your skin, which is both painful and unsightly. If your heart is set on developing a tan, then slow and steady is always the winner.

A sun cream of at least SPF 15 should be applied liberally 20-30 minutes before going outside, and reapplied every two hours. It's always best to avoid the sun between the hours of 11-3 when the UV rays are at their strongest. Contrary to common belief, your burnt skin will not fade into an even tan, it will merely burn for a few days before eventually peeling, so burning does not speed up the tanning process.

Of course, accidents happen. So, if the worst happens and you do end up burning, then after-sun lotions will cool and soothe the burns whilst moisturising the skin to counteract any dryness and tightness. A mild analgesic such as paracetamol or ibuprofen will help to reduce the pain, although if your skin blisters from the sunburn then you will need to consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Fake tan

We all feel better with a tan, but beauty needn't come at the cost of your long-term health. In recent years, fake tanning products have soared in popularity due to their ability to achieve that desirable bronzed glow without the risks that come with sun exposure. Tanning products will react with your skin to produce a brown pigment that creates the appearance of a tan. In order to maintain this tan, you will need to reapply the product regularly as your outer skin cells will naturally begin to shed.

It's worth noting that fake tan will not protect your skin from UV rays though. Whilst some fake tan products do contain an SPF, it is usually very low. You should still wear a sun cream with an SPF of at least 15 when out in the sun.

Checking moles

It's vitally important that you regularly check any moles on your face and body, and the La Roche skin checker can help you to do this. La Roche have recently started a new skin cancer campaign that encourages us to be vigilant in checking moles and age spots. Whether you're dotty over those dalmatians or not, the message behind the video is extremely important. 90% of melanoma is treatable if caught early on, so checking your moles and age spots is imperative. If a mole is asymmetric or has an irregular colour or shape and a diameter of over 6mm, then a doctor or dermatologist should examine it as soon as possible.

If you have any concerns about sun care, or would like further advice on which SPF you should be using then you can speak to a pharmacist. We hope you have safe fun in the sun this summer.

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