How to stay safe in the sun

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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 the local area will be spending much of their free time outside this summer and as everyone enjoys the brighter sunnier days they 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.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and figures in Tayside are higher than other parts of the country with a steady increase year on year.

There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma and keratinocytic cancer. Most skin cancer is curable, however more advanced melanoma and some keratinocytic cancers can spread.

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.

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.

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 11a.m. and 3 p.m. 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.