Sun Awareness is the British Association of Dermatologists’ (BAD) annual campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer. Running from April to September, the campaign combines both detection and prevention advice. Through the campaign, BAD aim to encourage people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer, and to educate people about the dangers of excessive tanning and sunburn.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with at least 100,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. Individuals with fair-skin and hazel or blue eyes, together with people with blond or red hair, tend to be particularly susceptible to the disease.
Skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, either from the sun or from sunbeds at tanning salons. These rays penetrate deep into the skin, causing damage to cells, which increases the risk of the cells becoming cancerous. It’s important to remember that you can’t feel UV damaging your skin, and it can happen even when the sun doesn’t feel hot.
What does sunburn do to the skin?
Sunburn causes the top layers of skin to release chemicals which make blood vessels swell and leak fluids. The skin turns red, feels hot and painful, and can blister. After you’ve been sunburnt, the skin peels away to remove the damaged cells, revealing a fresh layer of healed skin. However, even if your skin looks healthy following sunburn, permanent damage could already have been done.
Protecting the skin from the sun can help to prevent these cancers – here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe:
- Children will require extra protection. The best way to do this is to cover them up and keep them in the shade
- Stay in the shade at the hottest point of the day – usually between 11am and 3pm in the UK
- Make sure you never burn by regularly applying at least factor 15 sun cream
- Try to ensure you are covered up where possible with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses to prevent damage to your eyes
- There are a number of mobile apps available for both iPhone and Android devices which have now been developed which monitor the UV levels across the world. This is helpful for summers spent both at home and away