SPF

Easy ways to protect your skin from the sun

Skin awareness is becoming very important in this day in age - if you don't protect your skin, you have a high risk of skin cancer, a fact that is frightening to most people. Never go out in direct sunlight without some form of protection. Even 15 minutes in the high sun can damage your skin, so you need to be extremely careful.

Protection

Wear your sunscreen. Depending on your skin type, use a high SPF (sun protection factor). Your children should be using the highest possible factor available, such as factor 40. The higher the SPF, the higher the protection you will receive against dangerous sunburns. Make sure you rub in the lotion correctly and top up the application after a dunk in the sea or swimming pool.

Cover yourself

If you can't find any lotions or need to go out to get some, cover up your skin with appropriate clothing. Children should wear hats for protection from UV rays and possible sunstroke. Dark- colored clothing offers the best protection as it absorbs the light, as apposed to reflecting the suns rays to parts of your body.

Use UV protected sunglasses

This will help protect your eyes on those blissful hot days. Never look directly into the sun, as serious eye damage could occur. You might assume that darker glasses offer better protection, but this is not the case - it's the chemical coating on the glasses that protects your eyes from the sun. Always read the label and make sure they offer 100% UV protection.

Sun beds (stay away from them)

Sunbeds do the same damage as the sun - they burn your skin to bring out the browner pigment. This process is highly dangerous and can lead to skin cancer.

Signs of skin cancer

If you sunbathe a lot, it's important to get someone like your partner to check you over now and again for signs of skin cancer - especially on areas of the skin where you can't see very well. The symptoms of non-melanoma cancer can be seen quite easily, and you should be looking for things like:

  • A spot or sore that does not heal within four weeks.
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed for more than four weeks.
  • An area where the skin has broken down or is ulcerated with no obvious cause, and does not heal within four weeks.
  • An ulcer is an area that is breaking down and begins to get deeper. This can be called erosion.

Other threats to the skin include:

  • Basal cell. This type of skin cancer looks like a small, slow-growing, shiny pink or red lump. If left, the bumps tend to become crusty, and may ulcerate or bleed. They are most common on the face, scalp, ears, hands, shoulders and back.

  • Squamous cell. Usually look like pink lumps, and may have hard, scaly skin on the surface. They can bleed easily and ulcerate. They are most often found on the face, neck, lips, ears, hands, shoulders, arms and legs.

  • Bowen's disease. This is a very early form of skin cancer. It usually looks like a red patch that may be itchy. It can appear anywhere on the body.
  • Melanoma. Is the most serious form of skin cancer, and can grow deep into the tissue, making it more difficult to remove. It can also metastasize or spread throughout the body, making it potentially fatal.

By David Irvine