Sun Awareness Week

Ironically enough, it’s sun awareness week (May 4th-10th) so what greater weather to highlight the damages we face from the sun than grey skies and cold rain! Brilliant.

Although our great British weather comes as no surprise, what has shocked me is the results of the recent survey by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) who revealed 96% of Britons (1000 surveyed) don’t check for signs of skin cancer once a month and 77% would not know what to look for. I am a bit over zealous in my routine and leapt into my surgery when I noticed a small mole on my tummy. I may have been a bit over keen but better safe than sorry.

I am a sun addict too but not a leather skin junkie. I always make sure I wear sun cream with a high SPF, even in winter as the sun still penetrates through the cloud. It’s better to be over cautious than under though, right? Especially when you consider that 72% of people BAD surveyed confessed to getting sunburnt last year. Read the full findings at the BAD website.

imagesSun damage isn’t necessarily instant. It can build up over time so if you spend your early life hugging sun beds and going unprotected all day in the blistering sun, you can still help repair the skin – and yourself – from any further harm. The Skin Cancer Foundation also confirm that we should have a skin care regime all year round:

Protecting your skin from the sun does not end with the summer months,” says Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, a New York City dermatologist and educational spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation. “By carefully practicing sun protection year-round, you can prevent further sun damage and may even reverse some of the damage already done.

So what should we be looking out for? More information can be found over on Cancer Research UK but I’ve pulled a few pointers out:

  • A spot or sore that does not heal within 4 weeks
  • A spot or sore that itches, hurts, is scabbed or crusty, or bleeds for more than 4 weeks
  • Areas where the skin has broken down (an ulcer) and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, and you can’t think of a reason for this change
  • An ulcer is an area that is breaking down and begins to get deeper

We all know wearing sunscreen is the cardinal rule against developing cancer; but make sure it has an SPF of 15 or higher. I slather it on every single day after my morning face care routine. I always replace it yearly to ensure maximum protection. Other recommendations include keeping hydrated and reduce your daily outside time during the midday sun. You can still enjoy the beauty of summer from the shade.

Check out the Lavera range of cruelty-free sun protection and yes, it’s vegan friendly.

It’s not just our skin we need to be mindful of. Our eyes are extremely delicate creatures so care must be taken. Although the eyelid protects our sight and sensitive eyeball, it’s very thin tissue that can be destroyed by UV light, and this once UV penetrates the eye lens, it can have disturbing effects.

Credit: Georgi Bomb :)

Credit: Georgi Bomb 🙂

Aside from the various cancers, you can develop cataracts, vision loss, benign growths or corneal sunburn. The latter sounds horrendous if you ask me. Keep protected with a decent pair of sunglasses – it will also stop premature wrinkles (yes, I am vain) – but again, be watchful for any of the following signs:

  • A lump or bump that frequently bleeds or does not disappear
  • Persistent red eye or inflammation of the eyelids that does not respond to medication
  • Newly acquired flat or elevated pigmented lesions that have irregular borders and growth
  • Unexplained loss of eyelashes

If caught early enough, you can get away with a series of small operations and still retain perfect vision however if you ignore it, you could lose your sight and even develop brain damage.

For more information, visit Skin Cancer Foundation.

Please don’t think I am trying to scare you but sun awareness week is just that. It’s to make you aware of the signs to look for; and the consequences if you ignore them. Always check with an optometrist or doctor if you are worried about anything and please spread this knowledge to your friends and family by sharing the article. But to end on a happy note, crack out those shorts, sun hat and sunnies and let’s play ball!

Happy summer!

Georgi Bomb in the garden

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