Keep safe in the hot weather
By thepickler | Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 13:13
AS PEOPLE across the South West rush outdoors to soak up some much needed sunshine they are being encouraged to take care in the sudden summer heat.
With the school holidays upon us and hundreds of major events over the coming weeks – headlined by the Olympics - there are plenty of reasons to get outside and enjoy the sunny weather.
But it is important to remember that too much exposure to the sun can be harmful.
Dr Mike Durkin, Medical Director for NHS South of England said: "Having had such a dismal start to the summer, the temptation for many will be to get out and make the most of the good weather, now that it has finally arrived.
"The danger is that people will be so keen to 'make the most of it' that they won't take the usual care to monitor how much sun they are exposing themselves to or protect their skin properly. There could be a temptation to stay out longer than usual."
It is the simple messages that work the best when reminding people how to protect themselves from the sun. Slip, slap, slop was the Australian public health campaign in the seventies and it remains an easy way to remember the key things to do when heading outside on a sunny day. SLIP on a t-shirt, SLAP on a hat and SLOP on some sun cream.
With the South West having some of the highest numbers of skin cancer cases in the country, local NHS services are keen to raise awareness of the hazards. On average there are 9,693 cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in England and 1,391 of those are in the South West. Fourteen percent of deaths from skin cancer in England each year are in the South West.*
Dr Durkin said: "It is important that everyone is aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and to take precautions when out in the sun. If you notice any changes to the skin you should see your doctor as soon as possible and get it checked out.
"Early diagnosis is essential in any illness and it's always better to raise any concerns with your GP as soon as possible.
Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign recommends the following:
· Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more.
· Choose a sunscreen labelled "broad spectrum", which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with a star rating of four or five stars.
· Apply sunscreen to clean, dry skin.
· Use around two teaspoons of sun cream to cover your head, arms and neck.
· Use at least two tablespoons of sun cream to cover all your exposed skin, if you're wearing a swimsuit.
· Re-apply sunscreen regularly (at least every two hours) as it can come off through washing, rubbing or sweating.
· Re-apply sunscreen after going in the water, even if it's labelled waterproof.
· Use sunscreen along with clothing and staying in the shade to avoid getting caught out by sunburn.
· Don't be tempted to spend longer in the sun than you would without sunscreen.
· Don't forget to check the expiry date on your sunscreen, and don't use it if it has expired.
For further advice and top tips to look after yourself in the sun visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/Sunprotectioneyesandskin.aspx.
And to find out more about the SunSmart campaign visit http://sunsmart.org.uk/