Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, in the UK alone it was reported that over 2280 people died from the disease in 2016.
With this type of cancer being caused by damage to the skin and the sun getting increasingly hotter in the UK during the summer months, it's important to know the signs of skin cancer and how you can protect yourself. Getting sunburn, just once every 2 years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.
Here are some top tips on how you can protect your skin.
The suns rays are most intense between April and late September from 11am - 3pm, according to Cancer Research UK. The NHS recommends trying to stay in the shade as much as possible during these times and to encourage your children to play in the shade, i.e. under a parasol or trees, rather than in direct sunlight.
Using sunscreen with a high SPF can give you advanced protection against the sun whether you are directly in it or out of it. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and 4 or 5 UVA star rating, as this will offer the best level of protection.
It is recommended that you apply a generous amount of sunscreen about 15-30 minutes before heading outside. Sunscreen should then be reapplied at least every two hours, even if you’re using a water-resistant sunscreen it should be reapplied after coming out of the water.
Like suntan lotion, sunglasses need to have UV protection in order to stop the sun damaging your eyes. Ophthalmologist Lisa Park, an MD at Columbia University, advises on three reasons why they're important.
Firstly we need them to protect our retinas inside the eye to prevent vision loss. Secondly protection slows down the progression of cataracts. And thirdly it helps stop skin cancer on the eyelids, especially for those who have a history of skin cancers.
When choosing a pair of sunglasses the NHS recommend that you make sure that they have the following:
A wide-brimmed hat will help to reduce the amount of UV rays that can reach your eyes and face, as well as stopping you burning your head.
According to the NHS, sunbeds are not safer alternatives to sunbathing outside. Those who frequently expose themselves to the UV rays that sunbeds give out are increasing their chance of developing skin cancer - especially when sunbeds can give out a greater amount of UV rays than than a midday sun.
Use clothing with tightly woven fabric (although loose fitting) as this will protect better against the sun’s rays. Darker colours tend to provide more protection than light colours.
Be aware that wearing clothing to cover up doesn’t block out all of the sun’s UV rays, generally if you can see the light through a fabric then there’s a high chance that the UV rays can get through too.
Did you know that the sun’s ultraviolet light can still penetrate through cloud cover even if it is cloudy? It can be a good idea to take precautions even if the sun may not be shining.
Many people will often forget to protect sensitive areas such as the tops of their ears, the hairline and the ‘V’ of their chest, the nose and hands.
Did you know that 80% of skin cancers occur on the head, neck and hands? This is why it is important to protect these missed areas whether it is through applying generous amounts of sunscreen or by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
WebMD recommends protecting your children from the sun’s harmful rays from an early age, ideally when he or she is a baby. They recommend this as children usually get the majority of their lifetime sun exposure during the first 18 years of their life because they spend a lot of their time outside playing.
Find out about our various cancer cover options by visiting our health insurance cover options page.