With the sun finally making an appearance across the UK, people have understandably rejoiced at what appears to be the first true sign of summer.
Naturally, the hot weather has brought with it a raft of vests, shorts and bare arms and legs and – as always – many people have suffered from sunburn through overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays.
This year, the first truly hot patch of weather has coincided with the British Association of Dermatologists’ (BAD’s) annual Sun Awareness Week, which aims to highlight the dangers that the sun can pose to our skin and general health.
To help support the event, the organisation has conducted a survey looking at attitudes towards skin safety across the UK, to help educate families about the potential effect of the sun and ensure that they keep themselves, their partners and their children safe during Sun Awareness Week and beyond.
The new poll has found that 80 per cent of people do not apply sunscreen before going out in the sun and shortly afterwards, which is the approach most strongly recommended by BAD.
According to the organisation, this approach has three key benefits, which the public should be aware of; ensuring the product is fully absorbed before skin is exposed to sun, reducing the chances of areas of skin being missed, and ensuring there is a thick enough layer applied.
The poll also found that seven out of ten people are then failing to reapply sunscreen every two hours while in the sun, which is also recommended by BAD.
It is no surprise, therefore, that 72 per cent of people admit that they have been sunburned in the previous 12 months, but the consequences of sunburn far exceed simply having red skin for a few days.
The risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer - more than doubles in people with a history of sunburn compared with people who have never been sunburned, and this risk is being compounded by some other habits identified by BAD.
Sunglasses are by far the most popular type of protective clothing worn, with 81 per cent of people doing so, which suggests that people are perhaps more concerned with their appearance or only safeguarding their eyes than they are their skin.
Reducing the risk
To help reduce these risks significantly, BAD has a number of tips for anyone going out in the sun, particularly during the warmer and brighter months:
1. Spend time in the shade during the sunniest part of the day when the sun is at its strongest, which is usually between 11am and 3pm in the summer months.
2. Avoid direct sun exposure to babies and very young children.
3. When it is not possible to stay out of the sun, keep yourself well covered, with a hat, T-shirt, and sunglasses to give you additional protection.
4. Apply sunscreen liberally to exposed areas of skin. Re-apply every two hours and straight after swimming or towelling in order to maintain protection.
Combining these tips with a common sense approach to skin safety can help to protect the skin of yourself and your family and ensure that you can enjoy the sun this year, whether at home or overseas.
The British Association of Dermatologists is a charity that aims to improve the practice, teaching, training and research of Dermatology. Advice on skin protection and information about its areas of operation are available on its website at: http://www.bad.org.uk/.