The summer sun can be deadly, literally! As part of the skin cancer awareness month, read tips on how to protect your skin from those deadly rays as part of the SunSmart programme!
- Wear clothing that’s covering as much skin as possible. It is important to consider both the weave of the fabric and the style of the clothing when choosing appropriate protection. Shirts with collars and long sleeves and long trousers or skirts give you the most protection. Look for clothing made of a closely woven material – the tighter the weave of the material, the better protection from UV radiation. Darker colours give slightly more protection than lighter colours, but can be hotter to wear during warmer weather. Some clothes are labelled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The UPF number is a guide to how much protection the fabric provides from UV radiation. Look for a UPF 50+ for maximum protection.
- Sunscreen should always be used with other forms of skin protection. Sunscreen contains chemicals that either absorb or reflect UV radiation before it damages the skin. SPF 50+ sunscreens filter out about 98 per cent of UV rays. Those labelled ‘broad spectrum’ filter both UVB and UVA radiation. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) label on a sunscreen is only a guide to the strength of the product, not how much time you can safely spend in the sun.
- Wear a hat that provides plenty of shade to your face, neck and ears; these are common sites for skin cancer. Choose a hat with closely woven fabric in one of the recommended styles for good protection. There are 3 styles of hats recommended for good protection:
- A broad brimmed hat with a brim width of at least 7.5 cm.
- A legionnaire style hat where the back flap meets the side of the front peak.
- A bucket hat with a deep crown that sits low on the head and has an angled brim, which is at least 6 cm wide.
- Using shade as much as possible when you are outdoors is an important strategy in protecting your skin. Shade from trees and man-made structures provide protection from UV radiation, but do not totally block it out. UV radiation can still be reflected off the ground and buildings around you even under dense shade. Always use shade as well as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen for maximum protection from UV radiation.
- Wear sunglasses. Eyes can also be damaged by UV radiation. Damage includes degenerative changes and cataracts. Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye and are one of the most common types of eye damage, mostly due to sun exposure. Untreated cataracts can lead to blindness. Choose sunglasses that wrap around the eyes and don’t let light in around the frames, especially at the sides, and make sure the frames fit close to the face.
If you are going to spend a lot of time in the sun, be it on the beach or in the bush, why not invest in a mobile gazebo to keep everyone cool and a little more protected against the sun?