Take Care This Summer: The Real Dangers of Sunburn
Much like the Northern Lights of Iceland and Norway, the British Summer is an elusive natural phenomenon that is rarely seen, and beautiful to behold. When it does decide to show up, us Brits flock outdoors to enjoy all the sun we can before it goes away.
With the sun’s warmth being such a rare delight, it is particularly easy for us to forget just how damaging the sun can be for our skin. Sunburn is not only painful and embarrassing – it is also very dangerous and comes with lasting effects.
Sunburn causes damage to the DNA in our skin, which results in lasting physical scarring over time, as well as an increased risk in skin cancer. We all know the risks but do we really appreciate the harm the sun can do.
Let’s get some perspective on how dangerous sunburn is:
- If you receive just five sunburns, you have doubled your chances of suffering from Melanoma.
- If you received five sunburns in your youth, you have increased the risk of Melanoma by 80%.
When put like that, it really does become clear just how real the dangers are, yet still millions of people in the UK subject themselves to the sun’s rays without taking proper precaution, so here are some tips from our Dermatologists to keep as safe as possible…
If you are already heavily sunburned:
In short, see a doctor. Dermatology specialists can help you combat the symptoms and consequences of a sunburn. For immediate (although short term) pain relief, immerse yourself in a bath of cool water – NOT cold or ice water.
Choose the Right Sunscreen
Make sure you are using a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, as both can cause burns and lasting skin damage, like wrinkles and dark patches. Sunscreens that protect against both kinds of rays are sometimes called “full” or “broad spectrum”, so always check the label and make sure you are covered, figuratively and literally!
You will also have to consider what SPF number to select based on the amount of time you’ll be spending in the sun, which can seem tricky, but remember that there are no downsides to using a sunscreen with a higher number and the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) recommend factor 30 and above.
If you are planning on spending more than a few minutes outside, go for a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF number of 30 or higher. It’s so important to ensure that you apply it before you go out into the sun and reapply regularly. Oh and one last thing – did you know sunscreens deteriorate with age? That’s right, they have an expiration date. If you have been using the same bottle tucked away in your beach bag for more than two summers, consider buying a new one.
If it’s Midday – Stay in the Shade
If you are outside and active, make sure to take a break inside or under a UV-resistant umbrella shade for at least an hour between 10am-4pm. Bear in mind that an umbrella won’t provide you with perfect protection, as you’ll still be hit with UV rays reflected off sand or other surfaces.
We would strongly recommend taking frequent breaks out of the sun to cool off, and staying out of the sun entirely between 11 and 1pm, but if you must be outside, do remember to take frequent breaks and re-apply your sunscreen.
Most importantly: Never fall asleep when exposed to the sun. Even if you are under an umbrella, you will likely find yourself sunburnt and in pain when you awake!
Summer may be the best chance to show off your beach bod, but a beach bod with sunburn and years of sun-damaged skin will not look so great later on in life!
Dressing appropriately in the sun is the best way to keep your skin and body healthy. Simple and stylish items like hats and dark clothing can be your best friend on particularly sunny days, as they will provide shade and block more sunlight than lighter coloured clothing.
- Hats: Choose a cap or hat with at least a 4 inch brim for maximum shade
- Sunglasses: Look for large or wrap-around frames with 100% UV protection
- Clothing: Wear something loose. Remember to cover exposed skin with sunscreen if you are wearing loose clothing.
This is the most important tip we can offer.
Each year we are warned about these dangers and provided with safety tips, and each year many of us will brush them off, because we “have heard it all before”, yet in truth many of us haven’t refreshed our memory or read anything about the dangers in a long time, or since we were children.
Educating yourself, educating your family and educating others is helping save lives. In short, enjoy the sun when you can, make sure you remember these tips and remember to stay aware.
Our dermatologists are always on hand to help you if you find yourself in pain from the effects of the sun, or worried about the long-term effects of sunburn. Get in touch today and ask us a question to make sure you are covered.
For further information about our Dermatology treatments, please click here.