The value of suncream - healthcare science blog

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Family relaxing

05 / 9 / 2014 2.56pm

Hi all, this blog comes from sunny Calella in Spain. I am on my summer hols having been lucky enough to get sent off by myself for two weeks as an Easter pressie from my other half.

I've been here three days so far and the excessive drinking, smoking and sunburn is epic. No, not me!! Everyone else!

Sunburn, really? With the huge amount of public education that goes on all the time about taking care of your skin in the sun, all of the products that are available and we all know by now that malignant melanoma is a seriously nasty skin cancer then why can I see so much sunburn on so many people?

Right now I am sat in the hotel restaurant having my evening meal and with a quick look around I can see ten people who are utterly red raw. This isn't a big restaurant, nor is it full.

Last night, walking to the local supermarket, I saw a mother and two young girls about seven years old, both with very white hair and super bright red bodies walking around looking quite miserable. Everywhere I look I can see toddlers, school aged children, teenagers, and adults burnt to a crisp. Some of them look as if they fell into a chip pan. It's heartbreaking, and just so needless.

A decent high factor sun cream isn't that expensive nowadays. There’s a lot of competition on the market - Buy One Get One Free, 2 for 1, 3 for 2 etc. I have even seen Sainsbury's do a basics variety for £2.50. And if pennies are really tight then I know that pound shops also sell sun block though I freely admit I wouldn't be putting Poundland sunblock on my 3 year old, but even so, a very cheap product is available.

So surely it can’t be cost that puts people off? My F50 and F30 was £7.50 for two 200ml bottles. That’s not much to spend on making sure I don't burn. Most decent supermarkets do their own sun cream at a reasonable price so no one has to spend a fortune on it.

So is it that the information isn't getting through to people? How can that be? So many TV adverts, bill board posters, ads in shops and magazines all telling us about the dangers of too much sun exposure, the dangers of burning your skin, skin cancer and everything else about it. Certainly when I was a teen in the 80s I had no idea about skin cancer and I admit that as a stupid ignorant teenager I covered myself in baby oil. I thought you had to burn to get a sun tan. Surely that can’t still be a popular misconception. Can it??

For years we have been told to slip, slop and slap on a hat and loads of sun block. We all know this so why are folk ignoring it and letting themselves burn. And more importantly why are they allowing their precious children to burn also?? I don't watch the soaps but maybe we need a melanoma storyline?? And while we're at it, let’s follow Australia's footsteps, and close down all UV sunbed salons!

Ok its now 20:10pm and there’s a fantastic hard rock club called Golden Gloves waiting for me :)

Ps, I’m going a lovely colour with not a hint of sunburn :) unlike the two lobsters who have just walked in to this room. So make that twelve.

So to end my summer time rant I’d like to share the following with you. Remember it is important to avoid getting sunburnt and to look after your skin when you’re out and about in the sun.

11am to 3pm is the time of day when the sun is at its highest and when it’s most intense. Go and find shade in a café and have a refreshing glass of iced water to cool down. Wear a T shirt, hat and sunglasses, anything to cover some of your skin up. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 (the higher the better), with good UVA protection (the more stars the better). As I’ve already said, it’s certainly cheap enough. If you’re paranoid like I am, slap on F30 or F50.

Sunbeds are absolutely not a safe alternative to tanning outdoors. The intensity of some of the UV rays they give off can be 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun. I go to the salon for a spray tan or my nails doing and I see so many people queuing up for their ’12 minutes’ of burn time, and then they exit the booth looking like they have been oven baked. Very unsexy actually.

Take the time to look at your skin for any changes, including irregular shaped moles and areas which are sore, red or won't seem to heal. For hard to see places ask someone to help you; a friend, partner or pay a visit to your GP.

Not all people are born with the same skin type though and those most at risk of developing skin cancer include those who have:

  • Fair skin
  • Lots of moles or freckles
  • Red or fair hair 
  • Had skin cancer before
  • A family history of skin cancer

The Cancer Research UK website is full of excellent information all about malignant melanoma and skin care http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/prod_consump/groups/cr_common/@cah/@gen/documents/generalcontent/about-melanoma.pdf

I just found out today my friend Mark Carter has died. After 13 years his malignant melanoma returned with fury and claimed him from us. He was the founder of the UK campaign to ban sunbeds. Www.sunbedban.co.uk . RIP Mark.

Remember I'm always happy to answer any questions. You can drop me a line at Sandra.Richards@ouh.nhs.uk.

 

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