By Farah Ahmed
Whilst busy planning and packing for a summer getaway, most of us are guilty of not paying attention to our skin and the importance of sun protection.
Fairer skinned people are more susceptible to developing skin cancer, whereas people of colour are relatively protected from UV damage thanks to the greater amounts of melanin (the protective pigment that gives skin and eyes their colour) that darker skin produces. That said, those of us with darker skin
tones can, in theory, still develop skin cancer from UV damage which is why it’s so important that appropriate measures are taken to protect your skin.
First of all, try to keep out of direct sunlight when the sun is at its strongest. This is usually in the few hours leading up to and following midday. Secondly, take precautions to ensure that your skin never burns by covering up with suitable clothing and sunglasses and remembering to take extra care with children. Use the highest sun protection factor that you can afford; at least factor 15 in the UK and higher when travelling to hotter climates. It may sound like common sense, but do make sure your sunscreen has not expired as most have a use by date of 2-3 years.
The reality is that most of us do not apply near enoughsun screen for it to be truly beneficial. Adults shouldaim to apply two tablespoons of sunscreen if covering the entire body whilst wearing a swimsuit. Remember to lather it on liberally, as if it is applied too thinly the amount of protection provided is reduced. Sunscreen needs to be applied frequently and liberally, which includes applying it straight after you’ve been in water – even if it is “water-resistant” – and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.
It’s not only your skin that needs protection from the sun but your eyes too. Remember to wear sunglasses, ideally with UV lenses. See page 20 for some great UV sunglasses.
If you do become sunburned, make sure you sponge sore skin with cool water, then apply soothing after-sun or calamine lotion. Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, will ease the pain by helping to reduce theinflammation caused by sunburn. Seek medical help ifyou feel unwell or the skin swells badly or blisters. Stay out of the sun until all signs of redness have gone.
Finally, enjoy your next holiday! Whilst you’re out shopping in preparation before jetting off, please remember to add sun protection factor to your list of essentials.
Farah co-authored the book ‘Coping with PMS’ which was featured on ITV’s Loose Women and has also written for various publications including Vogue, Top Sante, Heat and Asiana.