Five Safety S’s For Hot Sun

Cancer / Family Health

With temperatures soaring, a local skin cancer specialist is reminding us of five sun safety S’s – slip, slop, slap, slide and shade.

Macmillan Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist Kate Mayers says following the S’s advice will help to keep people safe during a spell of hot weather.

The Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust specialist suggests people should:

  • slip on a t-shirt
  • slop on sun cream with a protection factor of 30 or more
  • slap on a wide brimmed hat
  • slide on some quality sunglasses
  • shade from the sun wherever possible

“The vitamin D we get from sun keeps our bones healthy but studies have shown that light skins only need around 10 minutes of sun exposure at lunchtime daily between March and September to get enough vitamin D wearing summer clothes.

“People with darker skin may need longer to get enough vitamin D, but the link between the sun and cancer is well documented so please stay safe outdoors by practising the five S’s of sun safety.”

Densely woven fabrics – denim or synthetic fibres for example – give better protection than sheer or thin clothing. She also suggests wearing darker or bright colours that absorb UV rays and wearing looser rather than tight-fitting clothes

With sun screen, the advice is to use products offering both UVA and UVB protection that are water-resistant. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out and reapply every two hours once outside, especially if you get wet or wipe your skin with a towel.  

The ‘once-a-day’ creams will also need to be reapplied to allow for poor application and or rubbing. If you have sensitive skin, use a mineral sunscreen and if you are prone to acne avoid sunscreen containing Oxybenzone Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA).  

A hat offers some shade but does not mean sun cream is not needed because ultraviolet light is reflected off surfaces. Wide brimmed hats and others that offer protection for the back of the neck are good options as are those made from tightly woven fabric such as canvas.

The best sunglasses are close-fitting and wrap around your eyes to stop the sun getting through the sides. Look for the European CE mark and a high Eye Protection Factor (EPF) of nine or 10 will provide the best protection. 

Stay in the shade when the sun is at its strongest. In the UK that is from 11am until 3pm from March until October. The use of sunbeds for cosmetic tanning is not recommended. Research shows that the first exposure to sunbeds before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma – skin cancer – by 75%.

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