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Wednesday, April 2

TAKING CARE OF YOUR SKIN IN SUMMER – A Quick Guide

Out in the sun

Everybody wants to lie drowsily in the sun and let the summer rays turn the skin to a healthy and sexy looking dark brown. However, there are some health-related issues you should be aware of before spreading that beach towel. Sun exposure causes skin cancer, the most common type of cancer reported among the residents of the United Kingdom and USA. US authorities report that one in every three new cancer cases is skin cancer.

The sun sends out ultraviolet radiation, most of which is stopped from reaching the Earth’s surface by the ozone layer. The UV radiation that makes it past the ozone layer is strong enough to alter the DNA of skin cells and trigger, in time, the formation of carcinomas and melanomas. UV radiation is also responsible for sunburns and skin ageing.

Children and people with fair or red hair or fair skin, who tend to burn rapidly in the sun, are more at risk than others and may develop skin cancer faster. They should be the first to use sunscreen and other types of protection against UV radiation (wearing long sleeves and hats in summer). Most cases of skin cancer could have been prevented by limiting the exposure to sun.


Many cases actually result from exposure to UV radiation during childhood and the teen years. This means that you should start protecting yourself early on and that parents should teach their children things such as staying out of the sun at midday, wearing protective clothing and putting on sunscreen. Protection is the key to preventing skin cancer. Many people believe that ultraviolet radiation is the strongest when it’s very warm outside, but heat comes from infrared radiation. This means that you should be protected even on cooler days.

UV radiation is at its highest level in summer, around midday, when the sun is high in the sky. If you like mountain climbing, then you should be doubly careful; UV radiation increases with altitude. A heavy cloud cover may block UV radiation, but thin clouds are not good enough for protection. Don’t rely on the fact that you can face the sun safely for half an hour or even an hour. You cannot feel UV radiation on your skin and you will not be able to tell when it’s no longer safe for you to be out in the sun.

More on skin cancer

There are three types of skin cancer, according to the type of tumors that develop on the skin. The most common and less dangerous types feature basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Approximately nine in ten skin cancer cases belong to these two types. The true dangerous type is the malignant melanoma cancer, which can be fatal if not treated early.

Basal cell carcinomas look much like sores and form on the exposed parts of the skin: neck, shoulders, hands, and head. The carcinomas appear as raised, round bumps or flattened lumps of a reddish, pale or pearly colour. The carcinomas may be crusted and bleeding is frequent. Squamous cell carcinoma features persistent red, scaling, thickened spots on the sun-exposed skin. Ulceration and bleeding may occur. The SCC may also grow in size and spread to other parts of your skin if it is not treated.

In order to protect yourself, you should know what symptoms to look for. Most surface skin cancer cases can be treated with surgery if they are identified and brought to a doctor’s attention early on. However, if carcinomas or melanomas are allowed to grow, they will expand into the deeper layers of the skin and will connect with the lymphatic system. They will also metastasize and spread to other parts of the body, which may prove fatal. This is why you should always be careful to check for signs of cancer.

Any newly grown sore or reddish patch of skin that does not heal over a longer period of time (at least one month) is likely to be a carcinoma or melanoma, especially if you notice any bleeding. Any spot that does not stop itching, hurting or bleeding is also likely to be skin cancer. Also look for inflamed moles or moles that start to bleed or crust. Persistent ulceration of the skin that cannot be explained by your activities should also be suspected of being an early sign. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should go to a doctor as soon as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The worst type of skin cancer lesions are malignant melanomas. Melanomas look like moles, but grow to be bigger than any other moles you have ever seen. They develop in the outer layer of the skin, but can spread to other parts of the body and may be fatal if left untreated. You should see a doctor if you notice that one or more existing moles are growing in size. Melanomas also have a ragged outline, which is significantly different from the round and regular shape of common moles.

Stay safe

Knowledge is power. The more you know about skin cancer and its roots, the better you can protect yourself. Here are a few simple tips designed to help you in your quest to never experience skin cancer as long as you live.

As stated above, avoid the sun when it’s high in the sky. This means that you should stay indoors, or at least in the shade, between 11 AM and, say, 3 PM. After 3 PM it should be safe enough to venture outside. Still, you should always take advantage of shade, wherever you find it. Buy yourself a pair of UV protection glasses, if you don’t have one already. Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you can’t cover your neck by some other means. Make sure the exposed parts of your body never get burnt; you may want to invest in a sunscreen solution with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher to cover your hands and, if need be, feet. Use comfortable clothing that actually covers your body.

Keep in mind that no sunscreen solution is 100 percent safe, so cover as much of your skin as possible. Be extra careful with babies and children. Their skin needs much more protection than that of adults. Avoid sunbeds and tanning lamps. Such devices simply negate any effort to protect yourself from exposure to UV radiation. And lastly, check you skin on a regular basis and see your doctor if you notice any unexplained changes.

Tips on sunscreens



If you are willing to spend some money on a sunscreen, you should at least make sure you buy something worth your cash. The first thing to look for is the phrase “broad spectrum”. This means that the product can protect you from UV radiation of both type A and B. The second thing to look for is the Sun Protection Factor; the higher, the better. Buy products with SPFs of at least 15 to make sure you are well protected. If you are planning a trip to the beach, then you may also want a sunscreen marked “water resistant”, which is less likely to wash off in fifteen minutes. Remember that high SPF levels do not mean that you can stay in the sun longer. You will simply be better protected.


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