Summer and skin – a love / hate relationship

Summer and skin – a love / hate relationship

We so deserve the gorgeous weather we’ve been having recently – even the odd shower doesn’t seem too bad now. But sitting in a London park recently for my lunch break, I couldn’t help but notice all those pale skins turning red in the sun. Surprising? We’re in the UK – not Spain or Italy – after all. Sorry to rain on your parade, but the average skin ‘suntype’ in the UK is simply not made to deal with the sun’s harmful rays, even on home turf. Yet we’re always so relieved when our summer finally starts, many of us forget to take precautions and bask in the direct sun at high noon without sunscreen – gradually turning into lobsters. Maybe most people assume that since we’re here and not somewhere in the Med, the sun can’t be that bad, can it?

Well, you might be surprised to hear that we have extremely worrying skin cancer rates in the UK. Our rate of melanoma – the most serious type of skin cancer – is above the EU average. Interestingly, skin cancer rates in affluent areas are much higher compared to those in more deprived areas, but overall cases are rising steeply, with almost a third of all cases affecting women under 50. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, the incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than any other common cancer – rates are doubling every 10-20 years and projections suggest they’ll continue to rise until 2024!

One reason must be that we still see a tan as so attractive, it’s worth the risk – as I observed in the park the other day. But the good news is that at least we’re starting to teach our kids about sun protection. I was delighted to receive a letter from my children’s head teacher last week, reminding parents to apply sun protection to their kid’s skin each morning and send them to school with sun hats. An excellent start.

So here’s a thought. If we adults protected our own skin as well as our kids’, we’d have a win-win situation. Serious sun protection includes not sitting in direct sun, especially around noon and always apply a good broad-spectrum sunscreen product of at least SPF30 regularly. For everyone’s sake – save your skin.

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