As we spend more time outdoors enjoying the warmer weather it’s important to remember the sun can be harmful if we don’t protect ourselves.
Even if it’s cloudy and doesn’t feel hot, the sun can still be harmful if we don’t take measures.
Daily life cover-up
Brighton & Hove’s beaches and the South Downs are among the most popular summer visitor attractions in the region and we encourage people to enjoy the outdoors as an active and healthy city, but to do so without getting sunburn or risking skin cancer in the future. We should also be looking after ourselves during daily life, for example when we are outside waiting for the bus or picking up the children from school; you may not realise but when you are busy there is the chance of being exposed to too much sun.
According to the British Association of Dermatologists about 1 in 3 people are sunburned in the UK every year and many do not apply sun cream frequently enough.
Solar ray damage
While exposure to the sun can increase your likelihood of getting skin cancer, solar rays can also:
Speed up ageing
Cause painful blisters, headaches and sunstroke
Cause permanent damage to your eyes
Lead to dehydration and heat exhaustion
Enjoy life outdoors
However, it’s not all bad news, spending time outdoor is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress and absorb vitamin D. You can work and play outside without putting yourself at risk by taking simple measures to protect your skin from the sun.
Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet light – an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun and is linked to skin aging and burning. UV Protection from rays is important all year, not just the summer. You can absorb UV rays even on cooler cloudy days which are strongest from 11am to 3pm.
Avoid sunburn because it can increase the risk of skin cancer. Contrary to some beliefs there’s no safe or healthy way to get a tan and it does not protect you from sun’s harmful effects.
Do not rely on sunscreen alone, cover up and spend time in the shade.
Sun safety tips:
- Shade: You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree or indoors between 11am to 3pm.
Clothing: Wear long sleeved shirts or blouses and long trousers and skirts which can protect against UV rays.
Hat: A wide brimmed hat can shade your face, ears and the back of your neck
Sunglasses: Shades protect your eyes and the sensitive skin round the eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.
Sunscreen: Wear a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) – a number which rates how well it blocks UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection (2 to 50) – use SPF 30 or higher or at least 4-star UVA protection.
Make sure you put enough on, apply liberally to all exposed skin up to 30 minutes before going out into the sun. Do not run into your skin but spread uniformly and allow to dry. Reapply after 2 hours in the sun and after swimming or other physical activity. Check the sunscreen is in date, it loses effectiveness after an average of 30 months.
Children: Take extra care with children as they have extra sensitive skin. Keep children aged under 6 months out of direct strong sunlight. Sunsuits are ideal.
Alistair Hill, Director of Public Health, Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “Most of us love the warm and sunny weather and flock to the seaside or the countryside to make the most of it after long wet winters. There are so many benefits, such as making you feel better being outdoors and being active and socialising, not to forget all that vitamin D.
“Although we must be aware that the sun can be dangerous, we can easily reduce the risks of harm by taking a few simple precautions. Please stay safe as you enjoy the great outdoors; cover up, apply sunscreen and stay in the shade, even on a cloudy day.”
More safety advice
Further advice on sun safety: NHS advice look after your skin, check your moles; and https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/ and from the British Association of Dermatologists Sun Awareness campaign or from Cancer Research How to check for skin health and melanomas