Temperatures are rising, and the UK’s first proper heatwave is on the way, borne by a European heat plume. Sun safety is May’s focus, and this year the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) is tackling the misconception that sun protection is rarely needed in the UK.
Sun safety in the UK
According to a recent poll by YouGov on behalf of BAD, 40% of people in the UK reported at least one case of sunburn in 2022. Last summer, we saw the country’s highest recorded temperature, and most days reached a UV index of at least 3. Yet, worryingly, more than half of people under 35 confessed to ignoring sun safety warnings.
Our notoriously inclement climate means that Brits love taking advantage of sunny weather, and the survey also found that 76% said they soaked up the rays on a sunny day, and 12% went without any form of sun protection.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK, and rates continue to rise. UV radiation in the sun’s rays cause damage to the DNA in your skin cells, and this can lead to skin cancer. In the UK, almost 9 in 10 cases of melanoma could be prevented by preventing sun damage, and it’s estimated that getting sunburnt just once every two years increases your risk of developing melanoma by triple.
Tips for staying sun safe include:
- Cover as much skin as possible, particularly the shoulders, which burn easily. Consider wearing a hat with a wide brim to protect the head, face, ears and neck.
- Sunglasses are a must, as UV radiation can also damage the eyes. Sunglasses with UV400 protection can filter out up to 99% of UVA and UVB rays.
- Use sunscreen – a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF30 or higher should be applied at least 30 minutes before going into the sun and then reapplied at least every two hours.
- Seek shade to protect yourself from the sun, particularly between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is strongest. Although it is important to note that UV radiation can reflect off surfaces like sand, concrete or water, meaning shade doesn’t always prevent sunburn.
Skin checks at GP London W1
The good news is that most cases of skin cancer can be cured if they are detected and treated early enough. Regularly check your skin for any moles or marks that are new or are changing and make an appointment with your GP if you notice anything that is a cause for concern.