Be skin aware…
We are all enjoying this lovely weather at the moment, which has been a long time coming.
But while some exposure to sunlight can be enjoyable, too much sunlight can be dangerous.
Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause immediate effects such as sunburn and long-term problems such as premature ageing and skin cancer.
Sunlight consists of two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation: UVB and UVA. Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to freckling, skin wrinkling, ageing and the development of skin cancer.
UVB radiation has the most energy and causes the most damage. UVB is only partially blocked by clouds or fog. Therefore, it is important to wear sunblock even on cloudy days.
This type of radiation intensifies during the summer and with higher elevations. It can do more damage, more quickly than UVA rays. Because of the damage it causes to the DNA of skin cells, UVB radiation is the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer. Over the past 25 years, the thinning ozone layer means more UVB penetrates the atmosphere, increasing the risk for UVB-related sun damage.
UVA radiation is less powerful than UVB, but it penetrates deeper into the skin. Small daily doses of UVA causes long-term skin injury, even without signs of sunburn.
UVA light is used in tanning booths. Tanning booths not only cause the same type of skin and eye damage as natural sunlight, they may also be as much as 20 times stronger. When the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the surface of the skin, the skin reacts by producing melanin, a skin pigment that has a protective effect on the skin.
Tanning after sun exposure, therefore, is your body’s response to sun damage.
Having a tan provides minimal protection against sun overexposure and is not a substitute for good sun protective measures.
Know your UV index
The UV index predicts the risk of overexposure to the sun for the following day. The index predicts UV intensity levels on a scale from 1 to 11+, where a low number indicates a minimal risk of overexposure and a high number (e.g.11+) means an extreme risk.
The UV index takes into account the day, weather condition, time of year, elevation, latitude, amount of ozone coverage, as well as other local conditions that affect the amount of UV radiation reaching the ground.
So, don’t be a lobster: follow Dr Charlotte and Dr Victoria’s top tips to stay safe in the sun
Seek shade when UV rays are at their strongest – generally between 11am and 3pm.
Cover up by wearing a shirt with a collar and long shorts. Also wear a hat that gives shade to your face, neck and ears.
Wear wraparound sunglasses and make sure they give UV protection.
Slop on the sunscreen – choose one with SPF 30 or higher and UVA protection, applying it twenty minutes before going outside. And re-apply every two hours – more often if swimming or sweating.
Check the UV index.
It’s important to remember the real dangers of even mild sunburn and tanning from recreational sun exposure and sunbeds. While the sunburn or the tan may fade, the damage remains and this can lead to skin cancer.