View Full Version : Protect yourself against the sun

16-May-11, 10:07
WE haven't been suffering from an over-abundance of sunshine, of late, but, in the hope that we will see some warm summer days, NHS advice on protecting us from the dangerous consequences of the sun's rays, is worth noting.

Take steps to combat the unwelcome
effects of the summer sunshine

WARM sunny weather encourages us to spend more time outdoors, which is good for our health and wellbeing, but it is important we enjoy the summer safely by protecting ourselves and our children from excessive sun exposure.
Too much sun, especially if it causes sunburn, can lead to the development of skin cancer, which falls into two categories – non-melanoma skin cancer and the more serious malignant melanoma – both of which are preventable.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. In 2008, there were 10,054 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer recorded in Scotland, resulting in 58 deaths. However, the number of cases is likely to be a gross underestimate because it is not always notified.
Malignant melanoma is less common, but more serious than the non-melanoma variety because the cancer is more likely to spread to other organs in the body.
In 2008, there were 1,164 new cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed in Scotland, resulting in 171 deaths.
Consultant Dermatologist and Head of Service, Dr James Vestey, explained that there is a clear relationship between excessive exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and sunburn, premature skin ageing, eye damage and skin cancer.
He said: “The most important things we can do to protect ourselves are to keep out of the sun at the hottest times of the day during the summer -11am to 3pm from March to October - to cover up and use a high factor sun screen for the small areas of skin which have to be exposed and to wear good quality sunglasses.
Dr Vestey continued: “We also need to recognise the changes in our skin that should be checked in case they are early signs of skin cancer.”
He said an easy way to remember what to look for is to learn the ABC of changes in moles, particularly looking for moles which arise after puberty or longstanding moles which change to become Asymmetrical and irregular in shape or surface contour, have an irregular, rather than a smooth Border and/or irregular or asymmetrical distribution of Colour.
Dr Vestey added that moles that are larger than 6mm – the size of the blunt end of a pencil – are more likely to be sinister, and itching, bleeding or a burning sensation may be worrying signs.
Any change in a mole, freckle or normal patch of skin that happens quickly, over weeks or months, should be checked by a GP.
Dr Vestey said: “Sadly there is no such thing as ‘a safe sun tan’, especially in people under the age of 20 and those with Celtic skin types.”
He added that sun beds were no safer than sunbathing as they also give out UV rays and therefore increase the risk of skin cancer and they have no protective benefits.
There are a number of ways to prevent sunburn and stay safe while out in the sun. These include:
• Wearing clothing to protect your skin from UV rays, such as a long-sleeve shirt, trousers and a wide-brimmed hat
• Wearing good-quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays
• Keeping babies and children out of direct sunlight
• Using sunscreen that has a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 (use a higher SPF for fair and sensitive skin) and reapply it frequently
• Seeking advice immediately from your GP if you notice changes to any of your moles – for example, a change in their size, colour or texture