Suncare - Enjoy the sun safely

No doubt you've heard the warnings and know what's what, but it's your holiday and you want to enjoy the sun - sunbathing can be very enjoyable, so wise up as to how you can do it safely. What follows will simply INFORM you so you know what's what.

So, what happens in sunshine?

You tend to feel good, people are happier, the world seems like a better place, and... powerful ultraviolet (UV) radiation waves are given off by the sun! Sounds serious, yes? And it can be. The rays that tan (and can burn and cause skin cancer) are UVB and UVA.

What happens when you tan? why do it over time?

When you're in the sun, the skin produces a natural substance - melanin - which gives some protection and causes the skin to colour and tan. Everyone has different levels - naturally dark skinned people will have more. BUT, the levels - and therefore the degree of protection - take time to develop, which is why you should tan gradually. Remember though, no one is completely safe from burning. Did you know that sunburn is not the only cause of skin cancer? Tanning or too much sun year after year can also lead to people developing the disease.

Not sunburn!

UVB sunburn can happen in as little as 15 minutes, and will continue to develop for 24 to 72 hours after exposure. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin. It is these rays that cause longer-term damage like wrinkles, blotchiness, sagging and discoloration while also laying the ground work for future cases of skin cancer.

All types of sunburn, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage.

How can you make it safer?

By applying common sense measures you probably already know. BUT, having read the above, we hope you're keen to take them on board

  • Babies under 9 months should be kept out of direct sunlight
  • Children should wear long sleeved tops and hats, and high factor sunscreen
  • Use a sunscreen or block with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and re-apply regularly.

The SPF refers to the protection against UVB (e.g. an SPF of 15 allows approximately 15 times longer sun exposure without burning than with no protection. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection.

  • There is a voluntary star system for UVA protection in sunscreens - more stars mean more protection
  • Apply especially to raised areas - tops of ears and feet , lips, nose, boobs, shoulders
  • If you're swimming, use a water resistant cream and re-apply after taking a dip. Be aware that the sun's effects can be magnified on water
  • Avoid those times when the sun is at its most fierce - generally from noon until 15.00pm
  • To make sure you get the right sunscreen for your needs buy it before you go. Some left from last year? Check the expiry date as the effectiveness lessens over time
  • The sun's rays can get through many fabrics so don't rely on a cover up alone Now you're in the know - enjoy!

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