Monks Park Doctors Surgery's monthly column - July 2019
With the hottest part of summer nearly upon us, here’s our advice on how to enjoy the longer and (hopefully!) sunnier days safely! Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer and you can burn even when it’s cloudy in the UK.
The best way to enjoy the summer sunshine without sunburn is by using a mixture of shade, clothing and sunscreen. Children and teenagers will probably need reminding but do help them to learn good sun safety habits by setting a good example yourself.
When the sun is strong:
Spend time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm in the UK
Cover up with clothes, a hat and sunglasses.
Use at least a factor 15 sunscreen and reapply it regularly
Take extra care with children
You can reduce your risk of skin damage by finding or creating shade under an umbrella, tree or other type of shelter BEFORE you need relief from the sun. UV rays can go through some fabrics and reflect off the ground, so do consider clothing and sunscreen
Along with shade, another way to protect your skin from the sun is by covering up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and good quality sunglasses. The more your skin is covered with clothing, the better the protection you’re getting. Choose long sleeved tops and long trousers with loose fitting, tightly woven, dark coloured fabric. If this isn’t practical, wear a T-shirt or beach cover up but remember that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15 so you will need other protection as well. Choose wide brimmed hats in dark coloured tightly woven fabric and avoid straw hats that let sunlight through. Sunglasses should have the CE Mark and British Standard, a UV 400 label or 100% UV protection label or sticker. Try choosing wraparound styles that block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
Use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before you go outside, even on cloudy days. Make sure that you put enough on and as a general rule, use around 2 teaspoonfuls if you’re just covering your head, arms and neck and around 2 and a half tablespoonfuls if you’re covering your entire body. Sunscreen wears off so reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and definitely after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Remember too to check the sunscreen’s expiry date as sunscreen has a shelf life of no more than three years and shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
CHILDREN AND BABIES
Take extra care with babies and children as their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin. Children under 6 months old should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. Cover up with loose clothing and a wide brimmed hat, and apply sunscreen to skin not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.
Most importantly, enjoy the summer sun and strike a good balance between protecting yourself and getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight. Have a wonderful summer!