The sun and its effects
While we need sunlight to live, it can also be very damaging to our health if we get too much of it.
The energy contained in sunlight includes UV (ultraviolet) and infra-red and visible light. UV levels are highest between 11am and 3pm in the summer months, or 10am and 2pm during GMT1. As UV radiation is not related to temperature, it’s very easy to underestimate the risk and get burnt during everyday activities like gardening or sitting in the park.
Even on cloudy and cool days, UV radiation causes unseen damage to skin and can lead to skin cancers – now the most common form of cancer in the UK2. All skin types and colours are susceptible to sun burn and should be protected; but children’s skin is particularly delicate and easily damaged3, putting them at greatest risk – sunburn in childhood can increase the risk of skin damage, which may include conditions such as malignant melanoma and other skin cancers4. But such damage is easily preventable…just by being sun sensible.
Celebrity doctor Chris Steele reveals the importance of protecting your skin against the sun from an early age, having suffered four skin cancers himself as a result of over exposure to the sun.
Dr Chris said: "Sun protection is a serious matter and parents need to understand the facts so they can protect their family from the risks of sun damage.
"My skin cancers are purely the result of over exposure to the sun and sun beds many years ago, before we knew the dangers of UV exposure. As a doctor, it’s awful to remember how we readily left our skin vulnerable to sun damage.
"What many people still don't realise is that the majority of sun damage occurs before the age of 21 and suffering sun burn as a child or teenager greatly increases the risk of skin cancer in later years.
"Another common misconception is that sunscreen doesn't need to be applied on cloudy days. The reality is that cloudy days can often bring more risk as children will stay out longer when the sun isn’t as hot, meaning the damage caused can be more intense.
"Whether you are planning a holiday abroad or staying at home, you need to be skin aware and protect yourself and your family appropriately. Get the facts and get the right protection. Make sure you are using good quality products with a high SPF and follow the guidelines on when and how often to apply."
Stay Sun Sensible
Help prevent your skin getting damaged by following these simple precautions:
Cover up Wear a sunhat, sunglasses and T-shirt when you’re outside
Stay shady While you’re outside, stay in the shade as much as you can. Watch out for reflections from surfaces such as snow, water or sand, which can also cause sunburn. Even concrete or grass can reflect the sun and increase your risk of burning.
Drink lots Make sure you don’t get dehydrated, especially on warm days, by drinking lots of water – if you’re being active, this is particularly important.
Cream up Cover ALL your exposed skin with sunscreen (at least SPF 15), to protect your skin and stop it burning – and remember to reapply every 2 hours, or sooner if you go swimming. You’ll find tips on how to properly apply sunscreen here.
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