Are You Sun Aware?

16/05/2019

Sun Awareness month aims to provide information on both skin cancer prevention and detection.

What causes skin cancer?

Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. In the UK, almost 9 in 10 cases of melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) could be prevented by taking the correct precautions and enjoying the sun safely, as well as avoiding the use of sunbeds altogether. There are 2 main types of UV rays that damage our skin. Both can cause skin cancer:

•UVA - penetrates deep into the skin. It ages the skin, but contributes much less towards sunburn. UVA rays are the ones that are used in tanning beds.

•UVB - affects the top layer of skin and is responsible for the majority of sunburns. UVB rays can burn unprotected skin in just 15 minutes.

Sun protection tips:

Sunscreen - Make sure that you purchase a good quality sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB radiation, and has a minimum SPF of 30. Apply it properly at least 30 minutes before you go outside. This will allow your skin to fully absorb the lotion. Reapply sunscreen to your exposed skin every two hours.

Sunglasses - Research has found that 5-10% of skin cancers occur on the eyelid. When buying sunglasses, look out for indicators of high quality and safe glasses such as the 'CE Mark', UV 400 label, or ‘100% UV protection’ written on the label or sticker.

Correct clothing - Darker clothes with tightly woven fabric will give you more protection from the sun. Look for clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) on the label. A UPF of 40 or higher means that your clothes will absorb or reflect at least 97% of UV light.

Hydration - Being dehydrated may not be as visible as sunburn, but it can be just as dangerous. If you are exposed to a hot climate, you are at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated and developing heat stroke. Avoid this by drinking at least 2 litres of water a day and try not to consume alcohol or caffeine.

By following our tips above, you will be safe in the knowledge that you are doing your best in protecting yourself and your family from harmful amounts of UVA and UVB radiation.

Remember, sun damage is cumulative - it builds up over time, particularly if you’ve had multiple severe sunburns. Damaging your skin now can possibly lead to health risks later in life.

Left to right: Lisa Phillips, Staff Nurse, Out-patient department, Mr Mel Tohill, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Sheena Stothers Complex Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mr Declan Lannon, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Andrea Barnett, Staff Nurse, out-patient department.