Some summer weather advice

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With the weather showing some promise of summer at last, NHS Tayside is offering some practical advice on how to stay safe in the sun.

People all over Tayside will be spending much of their free time outside this summer and as we enjoy the brighter sunnier days we need to keep in mind the risks of over exposure to sunlight. Whether you are staying at home this summer or jetting off to sunnier climes, it is important to look after your skin.

NHS Tayside Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Colin Fleming, said: “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK but most cases could be prevented. The number of people getting skin cancer is rising each year at an alarming rate and it is predicted to rise faster than any other cancer in Scotland over the next 15 years.

“In Tayside, around 170 patients are affected with malignant melanomas each year and 20-30% of these patients will die from the disease. There are also a further 2000 non-malignant skin cancers removed in Tayside every year.

“Research has found that six out of 10 men and four out of 10 women never use sunscreen or cover-up during sunny periods in the UK. The sun doesn’t need to feel hot to damage your skin and it can be just as damaging here as it is abroad.

“With the school holidays underway, those looking after children should remember that young skin is delicate and very easily damaged by the sun. All children, no matter whether they tan easily or not, should be protected from the sun. Young people are more vulnerable to the effects of sunlight and if children get burnt, it increases the risk of skin cancer later in life.”

Here are a few practical tips to keep you and your children safe in the sun and avoid sunburn:

Seek shade when the sun is hottest – usually between 11am and 3pm. You can create your own shade with a beach umbrella or canopy, or take advantage of natural shade under trees.

Cover up with loose-fitting clothing and wear a hat that covers the ears and neck.

Use a high-factor sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or above.

Take care not to burn. Don’t be fooled by a cool breeze or light cloud.

If taking children in the car, make sure there is adequate ventilation and never leave them in the car unattended.

Drink plenty to avoid dehydration.

Choose sunglasses that comply with the British Standard – look on the label for BS EN 1836:1997.

There are also many myths surrounding sunbed use and sunbathing - one example being that getting a tan before going on holiday protects your skin – this is completely untrue.

One of the main causes of skin cancer is over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds. The skin does not distinguish between sunbeds and sunlight and it has been estimated that over 100 deaths per year from melanoma in the UK are attributed to ultraviolet A sunbeds.

A tan is actually your body’s attempt to protect itself from the damaging effect of these rays so the term a “healthy-looking glow” could not be further from the truth and the only safe option to a beautiful healthy tan is to fake it.