Staying Sun Safe

The summer is well underway and its time to talk about sun care. With the recent spell of beautiful weather in Ireland, now is the time to educate ourselves on the dangers associated with the sun exposure.

What are the risks of unprotected sun exposure?

Firstly, sun care is essential in the prevention of burns. In a recent study, it was found that almost 70% of those surveyed reported being sunburned in the past year. Sun exposure, without adequate protection, allows harmful UVA and UVB rays to penetrate the skin, causing burns. Sunburn leads to a reddening of the skin and a burning sensation. Severe sunburn may lead to blisters, nausea and headaches.

Unprotected sun exposure causes premature ageing of the skin. Although no one wishes to age before their time, a much greater risk of unprotected sun exposure is that of skin cancer. UV rays from the sun cause a mutation in the DNA of skin cells. This causes skin cells to behave unnaturally and can lead to skin cancer.  According to the HSE, more than 11,000 new cases of skin cancer are recorded every year in Ireland. Skin cancer is the largest cancer seen by the HSE today.

How can we protect ourselves from the sun?

Many steps can be taken to limit the amount of harmful sun exposure, allowing you to enjoy the summer months with ease. A full overview of how to protect yourself from the sun, published by the Irish Cancer Society can be found here. We at Life Pharmacy believe that by following our five tips on sun care safety you can enjoy the summer sun while protecting your skin.

  1. Use Sun Screen: Sun screen contains the active ingredients avobenzone and oxybenzone, which absorb UV light. These compounds protect the skin from harmful rays. When choosing a suitable sunscreen pay attention to the SPF (sun protection factor) displayed on the bottle. Those with fair skin are advised to choose sun screen with a higher SPF. Keep sunscreen below 30°C and always apply to dry skin 20 minutes before going in the sun.
  2. Wrap Up: Before going in the sun it is important that you dress appropriately. Some clothes are better than others in offering sun protection. Always wear a hat and sunglasses. Be sure to cover areas that have a higher risk of becoming burnt, such as your back and shoulders.
  3. Time Your Exposure: Avoid exposure between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its highest point. Note the amount of time spent in the sun and take regular breaks in the shade.
  4. Kids First: While preparing for sun exposure make sure to take care of young children first. They are most at risk of sunburn and should never be exposed to direct sunlight.
  5. Know Your Skin: Lastly, know your own skin. Take time to study your body, paying close attention to moles and other blemishes. If you notice any changes in size or colour it is time to speak to your local Life Pharmacist or GP. Remember, your skin is one of the most important organs.