Sun awareness week shines a light on skin safety

Barnsley Council is sharing advice for staying safe in the sun as part of Sun Awareness Week 2018 (14-20 May). The week is supported by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) and the British Skin Foundation (BSF).

Melanoma skin cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 4% of all new cancer cases (2015). [Cancer Research UK]

Sun damage which starts in childhood can lead to skin cancer later in life.

Sunshine is not all bad – it helps the body produce vitamin D which is important for helping children’s bones to grow and stay strong, as well as helping to prevent osteoporosis later in life.

However, while getting sunburn may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, it can also lead to skin cancer.

Most people think about sunburn as something that just happens on holiday or in hot, sunny places. But the sun is often strong enough to burn at home in the UK. And it doesn’t have to be a sunny day either- UV can be strong even on cloudy days. 

It’s important to beware of getting burnt while you’re out and about, rather than deliberately 'sunbathing'. You may be outdoors watching sport, doing the gardening, walking round town or just sitting in the park.

During British Summer Time the sun's UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm. Be especially careful about protecting your skin from sunburn during these hours by seeking shade, covering up with clothing, a hat and sunglasses and using sunscreen on the parts you can’t cover.

Eight out of ten people are failing to adequately apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, according to a survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists.

The poll found that 80 per cent of us don’t apply sunscreen before going out in the sun and then shortly afterwards. This is the approach recommended for three key reasons of which the public should be aware: to make sure that the product is fully absorbed before skin is exposed to sun, to help reduce the chances of areas of skin being missed, and to ensure a thick enough layer is applied.

The survey also found that 70 per cent of people fail to reapply sunscreen every two hours as recommended.

Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “You’re the best person to know how your skin reacts in the sun. The more easily you get sunburnt, the more careful you need to be..

“We want people to enjoy their summer without sunburn. Please stay safe in the sun.”

NHS Choices has lots of good advice about how to avoid sunburn and what to do if you or your children are sunburnt.

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