How to stay safe in the sun: Join in a live Q & A with one of Britain’s leading skin cancer experts

Have you noticed that big yellow thing in the sky this week? I looked it up on the internet and it’s something called The Sun.

I know, I hadn’t heard of it, either. Well, I had, but when you get to my age, you tend to forget things and I’d forgotten that the last time this glowing orb had made an appearance was for a few days way back in March.

But, like Halley’s comet, it has returned for a rare showing – and with any luck it will last throughout what used to be called ‘Summer’.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Because sunshine is such a rare pleasure in our country, we all feel tempted to make the absolute most of it by stripping off, lying down, basking and baking.

Kids, especially, love to shed their inhibitions and – as my sons say – ‘Get nekkid!’

Even if we go on holiday in search of that all-too-absent warmth, we sun-starved Brits want to get our fix of rays in as little time as possible.

And those rays – as we all know by now, because few of us live in caves without access to the internet – are extremely harmful and have to be treated with caution.

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays is one of the biggest causes of skin cancer, rates of which in the UK have risen faster than any other common cancer, with more than 11,700 people now affected by skin cancer each year.

It’s because of these frightening statistics that AXA PPP healthcare have planned an expert live chat on skin cancer to help people stay in the know this summer

Cancer specialist Professor Nicholas S A Stuart will be available to answer questions live on Tuesday May 29th between 3pm and 5pm.

He will be joining AXA PPP in the new Cancer Centre to discuss ways to prevent, diagnose and treat skin cancer. And after the live chat there will still be useful sun care guides on the be healthy section of the AXA PPP website to keep you informed.

Useful facts like these...

The first sign that your – or your children’s – skin has been damaged by that exposure is when it turns pink, and then reddens. We live in a world obsessed with how we look, and a golden tan is seen as a sign of glowing health – but nothing could be further from  the truth: it is actually a sign that your skin’s cells have been damaged which could lead to cancerous changes.

The sun emits several types of ultraviolet (UV) rays that are invisible but which penetrate the skin and damage it.

• UVA, or long wavelength, rays penetrate deep into the layers of the skin, harming the elastin, intensifying premature ageing and generally damaging the skin.

• UVB, or short wavelength, rays penetrate the outer layers of the skin and play a big role in causing sunburn.

When your skin goes red, or you have sunburn, it means your skin has been damaged. This damage builds up over time and increases the risk of skin cancer.

Some people have a higher risk of skin cancer, especially if you have:

• fair skin
• lots of moles
• fair or red hair
• light-coloured eyes
• a family history of skin cancer

One of the best things you can do to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to know your skin and protect it. If you have fair skin or if you burn very easily, you will need the highest level of protection. Even if your skin tends to tan easily, rather than burn, it’s still important to take care in the sun and use sunscreen. If you have naturally brown or black skin, the extra melanin pigment in the skin cells may provide a bit more protection against harm from UV rays but sun protection is still beneficial.

Using sunscreen

Applying sunscreen to your skin before you go outside during the summer months (and on cloudy days too, as 30-40% of UV still gets through clouds) helps reduce the risk of skin damage.

• Choose a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15; the SPF provides protection against burning and UVB damage.
• Look for sunscreens that are labelled as being ‘broad-spectrum’ (marked with a star rating system) and have at least four or five stars; this means they offer protection against UVA damage too.
• Apply to clean dry skin, ideally before other skincare products. • Allow approximately two teaspoonfuls of sunscreen to cover your arms, neck and face, and up to two tablespoons to cover your body.
• Re-apply during the day or more often if you’ve been in water.
• Don’t forget to check the expiry date – sunscreen has a shelf life of two to three years.

Sun protection tips

No sunscreen offers full protection, so follow these tips too.

• Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its hottest and at its highest in the sky. • Cover exposed areas, such as your arms or legs; close-weave clothes offer the most protection against UV rays.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head. • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes; the wrap-around style is good.
• Look for sunglasses marked BS EN 1836:1997, with a UV 400 label and offering 100% protection against UV.

So if you’re worried about a mole or wondering how best to stay safe in the sun, pop along and join the live chat from 3-5pm on Tuesday May 29th by clicking on the Cancer Centre.

If you can’t make it, you can get in touch through  Facebook or Twitter, and AXA PPP will get back to you with Professor Stuart’s answer shortly after the expert live chat.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for which I will be paid.

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One Response to How to stay safe in the sun: Join in a live Q & A with one of Britain’s leading skin cancer experts

  1. Very apt and sensible post considering the weather this week. Up in Scotland we see it less than most, and whenever it comes out, so do lobster people sadly.