You may think you’re safe in the shade or when it’s overcast, or you’ve applied sunscreen and covered up, but you aren’t necessarily!
Sun damage is actually caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not temperature. So it’s important to make decisions about spending time outdoors based on the weather forecast’s UV radiation levels warning, as well as on the temperature predicted. It is important to know that a cool, overcast day in summer can have similar UV levels to a warm, sunny day. UV rays are able to penetrate clouds and may even be more intense due to reflection off clouds. That’s why you aren’t necessarily safe in the shade either – UV rays reflecting off cement, water, sand, glass and grass can also cause sunburn, and you can burn through an un-tinted car window, or if the car window is down, when UV levels are high.
How Can You Protect Yourself From UV Rays
TIP 1: Ladies, don’t be fooled by the fact that your cosmetics are labelled with an SPF rating. Unless they have a high SPF rating, you should wear additional sunscreen under your makeup if you’re going into the sun for an extended period. Most cosmetic products offer either no protection or protection that is much lower than the recommended SPF. Sunless tanning products might create the illusion of a “healthy tan”, but in fact cause damage. A tan (darkening of the skin) is essentially a sign of skin cells in trauma, even if there is no redness or peeling – there is no such thing as a healthy tan! Yes, it’s true, tanning beds and sunlamps cause cancer – avoid at all costs! Read more about sunless tanning products and tanning beds…
TIP 2: If you’re worried about getting your Vitamin D fix, you need to know that we get very little Vitamin D from spending time in the sun. The main source of Vitamin D should be received through balanced nutrition. Some people may be at higher risk for Vitamin D deficiency, for example, people with very dark skin, conditions or medications that impact Vitamin D absorption, those who cover up for religious or cultural beliefs, or those who are bed ridden / house-bound, with little or no sun exposure. A doctor can help with regards to a Vitamin D supplement if this is the case.
TIP 3: If you have a darker skin, you are also at risk for skin cancer. Regardless of skin type, exposure to UV radiation from the sun or an artificial source can cause permanent skin damage. Although people with darker skins are at a lower risk of melanoma than lighter skinned, the majority of basal cell carcinomas, in people with darker skins, occur in sun-exposed skin, indicating that sun protection is paramount, regardless of pigment.¹ In darker skins, 70% of melanomas have been reported to be below the ankle and appearing on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Those with fair skin with red or blonde hair and light coloured eyes are most at risk for skin cancer. Those with Albinism are especially at risk.
TIP 4: Take special care of babies, infants and toddlers as one bad sunburn early on in life can lead to melanoma later in life. Babies younger than six months should not be exposed to the sun at all.
TIP 5: CANSA recommends a monthly self-examination of the skin and asking a friend or partner to examine areas you aren’t able to see yourself for any changes to moles or irregularities. Furthermore, routine screening at a doctor, dermatologist or CANSA is recommended on an annual basis. CANSA provides screening with the FotoFinder machine which maps moles – be sure to book an appointment as our machines “roam” from one CANSA Care Centre to the other.
SOURCE: CANSA SunSmart