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Sun Awareness Week 2017: The Risks of Sun Exposure

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May 8th marks the start of Sun Awareness Week 2017, so there's no better time to remind ourselves of the risks of too much sun exposure.

The arrival of May means we are firmly into spring, and summer is just around the corner. The sun is shining, it’s warmer and we’re all spending a bit more time outdoors. Some of us may even be looking forward to summer holiday somewhere hot.

Although this is great news for most of us, we need to be aware of the risks that sun exposure can have on our skin, body and our overall health. That’s why the British Association of Dermatologists is launching its fourth annual Sun Awareness Week 2017 from May 8th – 14th.

Now is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the risks of too much sun, and learn exactly how we can stay safe.

What are the risks of sun exposure?


This one may sound obvious, but thousands of us still manage to find ourselves getting sunburnt in sunny weather. A survey by Cancer Research UK found that a fifth of individuals go without sun protection on a warm day, and the issue is particularly prevalent with men, who worry 75% less about getting burnt than women.

Sunburn may seem like a minor issue, but it can easily turn nasty. As well as pain, itching and flaky skin, sunburn also increases your risk of major health concerns like skin cancer.

Aging and pigmentation

For many of us, having a tan is an instant confidence booster, but sun exposure can wreak havoc on the appearance of our skin. Consequences include premature aging in the form of wrinkles, tightness and even age spots, which occur most commonly on our hands and faces.

Risks to your health

The sun’s radiation creates ultraviolet light, and it’s this light which is the main cause of skin cancer. Sunburn damages the genetic material of your skin, or the DNA. If too much damage is caused, cells can react by growing out of control, leading to the formation of cancer. This more than anything is why it’s vital we don’t overexpose our skin to the sun.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Learn the difference in sun creams

We all know we should be wearing sun protection whenever we’re outside in the sunshine, but there’s a lot more to it than you might think. Sun creams come in different factors, and pale skin, children’s skin or just skin that hasn’t seen much sun recently should always opt for a particularly high factor. In general, we should all be wearing factor 15 at the very least.

Your sun cream should also have decent staying power and be waterproof. You should reapply regularly throughout your time in the sun.

Sunlight hits the skin in the form of multiple ultraviolet rays, including UVA and UVB. Think of these as UVAging (as this penetrates deeper into the skin and causes signs of aging) and UVBurning (as this is responsible for sunburn.) Find a sun cream which protects against both.

Enjoy the shade

Sun exposure leads to 80% of melanoma cases, which is the most serious kind of skin cancer. This should be enough to tell us to take regular breaks from direct sunlight and let your body enjoy a bit of shade at least every 30 minutes.

Stay hydrated

Sun exposure when paired with dehydration is a deadly mixture which often leads to sunstroke. This can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseous and feverish, which nobody wants on a bright, sunny day! Always be sure to drink plenty of water, aiming for eight large glasses a day. This is true at all times, but even more so when it’s warm and bright.

Express Pharmacy is an excellent resource for information and treatment regarding a wide variety of common conditions. Get in touch today for more information and ensure your summer is fun, relaxing and – above all – safe.

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