Skin cancer cases have doubled within the last twenty years within the UK. Each year, thousands of new cases are being reported, and the patients are becoming younger. On the plus side, the survival rate is also on the up thanks to swift diagnosis.
We all know the damaging effects of UV rays, and skin cancer is one of them, along with prematurely aged skin, dehydrated skin and age spots.
The results of studies have suggested that sun cream alone will not prevent skin cancer, but it can certainly help to protect you. Sun creams are often applied too thinly, and are not regularly applied throughout the day. Sun protection begins to loose it’s effectiveness over time and will need to be applied at least every 3-4 hours. It should also be applied 30minutes before exposure to the sun, whereas many people don’t do this. Others will go into the sea and into pools, without realising their sun cream is not waterproof. The water will instantly remove the cream from the body, meaning you have no protection. You should always try to use lotions that are waterproof, especially on children who are constantly in and out of the pool, exposing themselves to the high temperatures with no or little protection.
The higher the SPF (sun protection factor) on your cream, the greater the protection against UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for burning of the skin, but while all creams protect against UVB rays, not all protect against UVA rays. Some travellers presume both UVA and UVB rays are protected in all sun creams but this is not the case and travellers should be more aware of this. UVA protection is usually rated separately between 2 and 4, so make sure you buy a sun cream that offers both!
You should also consider your clothing when you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin near the eyes, and always wear a hat to protect the head and back of the neck. It is also wise to wear tops that cover the shoulders as these can often become burnt. By avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm you can prevent sun burning and overexposure, as this is the time span where the sun is at it‘s peak.
It’s also wise to drink plenty of non alcoholic drinks while in the heat. Water in particular will help to keep you alert and your body hydrated, as you loose more water in heat due to perspiration. Be careful with medication you may have to take, as some can make you more sensitive to the sun. check this with your GP. Particular oils can also leave you more sensitive to the sun, too, as many essential oils (mainly citrus) have photo sensitising actions that leave you more susceptible to burns. If you go for a massage while your away, it may be best to stick to a normal carrier oil such as grape seed.
Always consult with your Doctor or Nurse if you notice any unusual changes in your skin or your moles. Any moles which become itchy or bleed, or change in colour, shape or size should also be reported to your doctor and investigated.