There are so many wonderful things to love about summer. Whether it’s a BBQ with some backyard cricket thrown in or an afternoon at the beach, it’s important not to forget about the dangers which come with time in the sun, particularly as we head outdoors more often.
A sun tan’s fine, as long as you don’t burn
Tanning is a sign of sun damage. If you think tanning gives you a healthy glow, think again. Your skin turns brown as a way of trying to protect itself because the UV (ultraviolet) rays are damaging living cells. One damaged skin cell can start a melanoma growing. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer and at only 1 millimeter deep it can start spreading to other parts of the body.
You don’t need to be concerned about skin cancer because if it happens you will see it, and it is easy to treat.
Skin cancer treatment can be a lot more serious than having a lesion burnt off or cut out. It sometimes results in surgery, chemotherapy, permanent scaring and potentially death. You should keep an eye out for any new moles or changes to existing ones and see your GP or skin specialist if you notice anything unusual. If caught early, the survival rate of skin cancer and melanoma is high.
Clothes always protect your skin from the sun.
Not all fabrics protect the same from the sun. Some standard t-shirts only provide the equivalent protection as sunscreen with SPF5.
You can’t get burnt in the car or through a glass window.
There are two main types of ultraviolet (UV) rays: UVA which causes skin damage and ageing, penetrating deep into the skin, and UVB which causes burning. Glass only filters UVB rays – but UVA rays can still get through. That’s why many adult drivers have more wrinkles and sun spots on the right side of their face and their right arm than their left arm and left side – it’s from UV exposure through the car window. To avoid sun damage, make sure you regularly apply sunscreen and wear sun protective clothing.
If it’s cool or cloudy outside, you don’t need sun protection.
Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. This is why people with no sun protection sometimes end up with serious sunburn on overcast days. Heat is also not an accurate reflection of the UV levels. Even on cool days the UV can be high.
Only sunbathers get skin cancer.
Excessive sun exposure doesn’t only happen when seeking a tan. We can be exposed to high levels of UV radiation during all different kinds of daily activities such as gardening, working outdoors, having a picnic in the park or walking the dog. This sun exposure adds up over time