As the weather heats up and we look forward to beach days, barbeques and picnics in the park, now is the ideal time to focus on protecting ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays.
This week is Sun Awareness Week (14th – 20th May), which was set up by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to raise awareness of the dangers of excessive UV radiation, to promote sun safety, and to educate the public about spotting warning signs of skin cancer early.
Skin cancer is the UK’s most common form of cancer, and UK rates of melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) have quadrupled since the 1970s. More than 15,000 new UK cases of melanoma occur every year, which equates to 42 new cases being diagnosed every day.
There are also an estimated 210,000 new UK cases of non-melanoma skin cancer every year. This type of cancer is less deadly than melanoma and tends not to spread to other parts of the body, but to grow at the site where it forms – unless it is removed, often causing scarring.
It seems that so many of us in the UK still choose a tan over sun safety, judging by a BAD study which revealed that 1 in 3 of us are still getting burnt in the UK every year, and 28% are getting burnt abroad.
Excessive UV radiation found in sunlight and sunbeds is a major contributing factor to skin cancer development. In fact, according to the BAD, 86% of UK melanoma cases are related to too much UV exposure – and were preventable.
So what can we do to protect ourselves? Here are the BAD’s top sun safety tips:
- Protect the skin with clothing, including a hat, t-shirt and UV protective sunglasses
- Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it’s sunny
- Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 (SPF 50 for children or people with pale skin) which also has high UVA protection
- Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight
- The BAD recommends that you tell your doctor about any changes to a mole – if your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist (on the GMC register of specialists), the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS.
At Honour Health, we are passionate about good skin health, and we talk to our patients about the importance of wearing SPF as part of a daily skincare routine. We work with leading cosmeceutical brand Heliocare to educate our patients about protecting their skin from the sun, and we stock Helicocare’s range of SPF 50 sun protection products. To find out more, book a free skin consultation at your chosen Honour Health practice.
For further information about the BDA, visit: http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/skin-cancer