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Factor in skin protection to avoid getting burned in sun; Eight out of 10 people are failing to adequately apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, according to a recent survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists. Here, Dr Harryono Judodihardjo, medical director and founder of the Cellite Clinic in Cardiff, gives his advice on staying safe in the sun.

ATOTAL of 80% of us are not applying sunscreen before going out in the sun - that's according to a survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists ahead of this year's Sun Awareness Week.

And 70% of people also fail to reapply sunscreen every two hours as recommended.

Constant application of sunscreen in the sun is recommended to make sure the product is fully absorbed before skin is exposed to the sun, to help reduce the chances of areas of skin being missed and to ensure a thick enough layer is applied.

Dr Harryono Judodihardjo, medical director and founder of the Cellite Clinic in Cardiff, said: "Thanks to our unpredictable British weather it's very easy to overlook the need for sunblock. Often we leave the house in drizzle and the sun comes out soon after, catching us out.

"Although the sun isn't as strong as it is in Australia or Spain, it's still possible to burn very quickly, within 10-15 minutes, or even less if a person's skin is very fair.

"Cloudy days are treacherous too, as we are often oblivious to the fact that strong ultraviolet light is still filtering through - until it's too late, and our skin is burnt.

"My advice is to wear a high protection factor sunscreen every day - a minimum of SPF15 but preferably higher - put it on every morning so that it becomes as automatic as cleaning your teeth."

However Dr Judodihardjo is keen to point out that we must balance protecting our skin with the body's need for vitamin D - which is produced when the skin is exposed to the sun's rays.

"Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and we also need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium from our diet," he explained.

"We can also obtain vitamin D from oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as from meat and eggs, so it's advisable to combine careful sun exposure with a diet rich in vitamin D or by taking vitamin D supplements."

Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered without sunscreen from March to October.

A short period of time in the sun means just a few minutes - about 10 minutes is enough for most lighterskinned people - and is less than the time it takes to start going red or burn. Exposure for longer periods is unlikely to provide any additional benefits.

The body cannot produce more vitamin D if it has produced the quota amounts for the day. People with darker skin will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D. Those who exercise outside also need to take particular care, as a heavy sweat can cause sunscreen to slide away.

Not only is your skin vulnerable to the damaging rays of the sun, you may also exacerbate the problem by staying outside longer because you imagine that you are still protected.

If at all possible, take a couple of minutes to reapply your sunscreen. You can also add to your protection at the outset by wearing a hat with a decent-sized peak and sunglasses to protect the eyes from ultraviolet light.

Outdoor swimmers need to take special care too, as sunscreen tends to wash away in water. And be aware of any product that claims to be waterproof, as nothing is. Even a water-resistant product will only remain so for a limited period of time.

People with fair skin need to be particularly careful when exercising outdoors, as this skin type is the most prone to damage from ultraviolet light.

Why use sunscreen? Malignant melanoma, the potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer, is increasing in the UK at an alarming rate.

Someone dies of skin cancer every four hours.

Skin cancer isn't the only problem caused by the sun's rays, as UV light is the prime culprit in causing premature ageing. Most of the visible signs of the skin's ageing can be attributed to the sun - fine lines, wrinkles, freckles, sunspots, sagging.

Despite the best efforts of public health campaigners to promote the notion that pale is beautiful, the perception that a tan equates with good health and vitality still persists.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as a tan indicates that the skin has been damaged.

Protect your skin | Try to avoid excessive exposure during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm).

| Don't be fooled by the temperature - it's still possible to burn on a cool, cloudy day.

| Be aware on breezy days - the wind chill may cool the body down, but it will not diminish the ferocity of the sun's rays.

| Apply sunblock with a minimum SPF15 at least half an hour before going out. Reapply frequently throughout the day if you are staying outdoors.

| There's no such thing as a waterproof sunblock - after swimming or sweating it will need to be reapplied.

| Don't be tempted to stay longer in the sun because you are wearing sunblock.

| Children are particularly vulnerable - ensure that they don't burn by keeping them adequately clothed - long-sleeved shirts, trousers, a hat and sunglasses - and limit their exposure to strong sunshine. | Beach shelters are excellent for providing shade, but check the manufacturer's information - some are too flimsy to filter out UV light adequately.

| Sun Awareness Week 2017 runs from May 8-14.

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Medical experts recommend that you apply sunblock with a minimum SPF15 at least half an hour before going out
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 17, 2017
Words:921
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