Monday, May 09, 2016

Sun Awareness Week 2016 | Safeguard your Skin

May 9th to May 16 is Sun Awareness Week in the UK and it seems fitting that the sun has finally appeared whilst I’m blogging about this. I’m writing about this because this is something that I feel is really important to share but is also something I feel personally strong about. I have fair skin, fair hair (originally) and a lot of moles meaning that I’m in a high risk category when it comes to skin damage from the sun. I can’t spend much time in the sun because my skin burns terribly. Now that I have a baby, I also need to safeguard her skin from the dangers of the sun. So, as it’s Sun Awareness Week, I’ll be writing about a few things you can do to safeguard yourself, and your little ones, from the sun.
What can you do to protect your skin from burning?
What is Sun Awareness Week? 

Sun Awareness Week is run by the British Association of Dermatologists as part of their national Sun Awareness Campaign and aims to educate people on what they can do to prevent themselves from and also detect skin damage caused by exposure to the sun. They also aim to educate and encourage people to self-examine themselves for signs of skin cancer. As well as this, another aim is to further educate people about the dangers that come from sun burn and also about the links of excessive tanning and sunbed use to skin cancer. 

What can you do to safeguard your skin?

| Stay in the shade

The hottest part of the day is from 11am til 3pm so it’s advised to stay shaded during this time. I personally try to avoid spending too much time outside in the sun unless we’re in a place that’s very shaded. If I need to go out with Aoife I will always put her canopy over her pushchair as well as having her sunshade umbrella over her. I also try to think of a route that isn’t in direct sunlight if we’re walking and a route that might be shaded by trees or tall buildings. It’s also important to remember that if you do get sunburnt you shouldn’t spend any time in the sun until it’s cleared up. Also, don’t wait until you feel too hot or feel like your skin is burning to seek shade from the sun, because the chances are that you’ve already burnt your skin. 

| Apply sunscreen

The NHS says that a sunscreen that’s SPF15 should be suitable coverage, but I always cover myself in SPF50+ as well as covering my daughter in it too. Sunscreen also needs to be applied at least 15 – 30 minutes before you leave the house to let it absorb into your skin, and it also needs to be reapplied on a 2 hourly basis or if you’ve been swimming, sweating etc and don’t have a waterproof sunscreen. Also, apply sunscreen to every single part of your body. Get someone to apply it to the areas that you can't reach. Just remember that babies’ skin is also much more sensitive than ours. Even if it doesn't appear to be that hot, still apply sunscreen. You can never be too protected.

| Cover Up 

A lot of people think less is more when the sun comes out. I know it gets incredibly hot so many people feel like getting out their strapless tops and short skirts but it’s so easy to cover up and keep cool at the same time. I find that clothes made of lightweight cotton or chiffon are really cool to wear, but are also really good looking and are perfect summer items. Having a good hat is also important. My sun hats are very wide brimmed for more coverage, and my daughter’s sun hat covers her neck as well as shading her face. Don’t forget the sunglasses either to protect your eyes. I see so many people wearing only sunglasses without a hat; sunburn on your face is not pretty and is painful. I know from experience. 

| Take everything with you

Always make sure that you take everything you need with you to make sure you’re protected from the sun. Before I leave my apartment I make sure I have sunscreen, after sun lotion and water in my bag, as well as making sure I have our hats and Aoife’s sunscreen umbrella. Even if it doesn’t look bright and sunny when you leave, if you’re going to be out all day then you need to ensure that you have everything you need to stay protected from the sun. Also make sure you check the weather forecast before you leave to see how strong the sun is going to be. 

| Know what to look for 

Make sure you know what you need to look for when you’re checking your skin, and to also check your skin on a regular basis is. Knowing your skin and knowing if you’re in a high risk category is also important. Generally, those with fair skin, fair or red hair, light coloured eyes or someone with a lot of moles are in the high risk category. I have many moles so I keep an eye on them for any changes and I know I can see my GP if I’m unsure or if I’ve found something that concerns me. There’s also a handy Mole Self-Assessment Tool on the NHS Choices Website. If you do find any changes please go and see a GP. Moles are generally harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and the longer you leave something the harder it will be to treat if it does turn out to be cancerous. 

What do you do if you get sunburnt?

First things first, get out of the sun right away because you’ll be causing your skin more damage. Make sure that you drink plenty of water to cool you down and prevent dehydration. You can apply a cold compress like a cold flannel to the area where you’ve been sunburnt to help cool down the burnt area. Alternatively, having a cool shower will also help to cool the skin. You can also use water based emollients, like Vaseline, to help keep your skin moist and cool. After sun lotions also do the same thing so keep some handy with your sunscreen. Unless it's particularly bad then most sunburn can be treated at home with these methods as long as you avoid any further prolonged time in the sun.

Are you supporting Sun Awareness Week? Do you cover up when going out into the sun?

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