It's National Sun Awareness week and according to the British Association of Dermatologists, many of us don't adequately protect ourselves from bright sunlight or know how to spot the signs of skin cancer.
With sunburn leading to increased chances of melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, and over exposure to UV rays having the potential to damage your sight, you can understand why doctors and opticians take sun protection so seriously.
My top tips will help you stay protected in bright sunlight and avoid potential health issues.
Tip 1: Apply & re-apply high quality sunscreen
Did you know that the thin skin around your eyes is more sensitive to burning and can be prematurely aged by prolonged exposure to bright sunlight? Don't rely on makeup with an SPF factor to keep your skin safe in bright sunlight. While it can be frustrating to maintain sunscreen protection while on holiday, or at home in the summer, it's vital that you apply broad spectrum sunscreen protection offering at least factor 15 protection against UVA and UVB rays, and that you keep applying it every four hours or after swimming. The NHS has some valuable guidelines on which sunscreen to select and how the star rating system for these products work, on the NHS Choices website.
Tip 2: Wear sunglasses
Sunglasses are so much more than a fashion statement. You should choose a pair that offer 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays, as well as UV 400 protection, which blocks out smaller rays. Look for a pair that meet European Safety Standards, with lenses big enough to effectively block out rays from the sides as well. Wrap around sunglasses can help to block rays entering your eyes from above, and also protect you from dirt, grit and debris while on the beach, skiing or snowboarding.
Tip 3: Wear a sunhat
Sunhats offer Ultraviolet protection by shielding your eyes from sunlight. Select a sunhat that has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of 30+ (96% UV protection) or 50+ (99% UV protection), which ensures the fabric blocks a high level of UV radiation.
Tip 4: Choose contact lenses with high UV protection
If you are a contact lens wearer, ask your optician what level of UV protection is provided by your current lens and consider switching to a compatible pair that offer 80% UV-A protection and 95% UV-B protection. Your optician can advise you on which lenses offer the best protection, or you can compare contact lenses at Vision Direct and see which would be suitable for your prescription and needs.
Tip 5: Seek shade
It is recommended that you seek shade between 11am and 3pm, the hottest part of the day in the UK, and keep drinking cool drinks to avoid dehydration when it is very hot outside. When wearing sunscreen you should avoid staying out in the sun for longer than you would with unprotected skin, as you are still prone to heatstroke and dehydration if exposed to the sun for too long.
By following these simple tips you can keep your skin and eyes healthy while enjoying the summer sunshine. Stay safe and have a great summer.