Staycation Heatwave Sunbathing Risk Warnings
Featured In The Times
Expert Sun Advice from Dr Ross Perry
The Times looks at the unique situation that has seen millions more outdoors in the UK, thanks to lockdown, social distancing and the unusually warm and sunny weather in a feature entitled:
“Why sunbathing is a bad idea — even if you’re on staycation.
“If you’ve been spending the heatwave basking in the sun, the risks could be greater than you think. Here’s how to protect yourself”
The feature asks:
“…since any tan is a sign of harm to the skin, will 2020 end up being a record year for sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer?”
As an expert in skin cancer and sun damage, Dr Ross Perry was invited to give expert advice on the matter. Ross explains:
“It’s that classic British thing. We always chance our arm with the sun in this country, invariably it’s stronger than we think and we get a bit sunburnt. We aren’t prepared for it. That has certainly been the case in lockdown. we’ve all seen the photographs of the packed-out beaches, and so many people have been spending more time outside than usual. I’ve definitely witnessed some nasty cases of sunburn, often on consultations for other things.
“If someone falls asleep in the sun – perhaps sunbathing after a couple of glasses of rosé – the results can be truly dire. In the worst case I’ve seen the entire skin of the face turned into one huge blister.It was appalling. It can take weeks for something like that to settle. You are literally damaging the full thickness of your skin and will probably increase your risk of skin cancer by about ten times.
“Skin cancer takes a while to develop. Nobody really knows the exact mechanism in terms of time. It can take months to years or decades. But I would not be surprised if people have exposed themselves to more UV damage than is ideal this year, which could cause an impact further down the line.”
Skin Cancer Risks And Signs
The article explains that even those with naturally dark brown or black skin tones can still burn and should use sunscreen as they are still at risk of skin cancer, even though the risks may be lower due to an element of natural protection within the skin.
Dr Perry explains that skin cancer usually appears as a new mole:
“They can grow in 3 months or over many years, the time frame isn’t set. And they can occur on any site of the body. For men, the commonest site is the back, for women it’s the legs. They don’t often itch or bleed, and may not call attention to themselves, which is why you need to check yourself regularly.”
Sun exposure is one of several factors in the development of melanoma and is generally the cause of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Dr Perry continued to explain that even those who don’t regularly sunbathe can be at risk of skin cancer:
“One episode of nasty sunburn doubles your risk of later developing skin cancer. This is especially important to consider for children and adolescents. It’s so important to keep them safe. I see many patients in their 50s and 60s who recount getting badly burnt in a particular area, and then that’s the area where the skin cancer later develops.”
Vitamin D and Sun Exposure
Some patients think that sun exposure is important for general health reasons as the sun helps the body to make vitamin D. Dr Perry explains:
“You can get all the vitamin D you need from exposing your arms for 20 minutes three times a week. I’m not anti-sun. Going out and exercising regularly will be more beneficial for your overall health than sitting at home.”
Sun Protection Advice
“Your face gets constant exposure year-round, so you should always prioritise it for SPF, whereas your limbs are likely to be covered up for much of the time.”
“We all know the feeling when you forget your bottle of suncream and think you’ll just chance your luck, but sometimes that’s how the worst burns happen. The weather can change so much over the course of a single day. I’d advise avoiding direct sunlight when it’s really hot. Buy a hat, apply sunscreen regularly.”
Even in the UK? Yes. Dr Perry concludes:
“People sometimes think they don’t need to bother as much with suncream in Norfolk as they would in Italy. It has not become an automatic habit for many, as it has in hotter countries like Australia. But the truth is that the ozone layer is thinning, our climate is changing, and if you go out on a sunny day, the UV index in the UK is relatively high. It’s very simple – if you leave the house for anything you should be wearing sun cream and you need to reapply. Buy more than one bottle and keep them in your car, your handbag, wherever you might need them.”
Read the article in full on The Times website: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/why-sunbathing-is-a-bad-idea-even-if-youre-on-staycation-090rw95vk (registration required to read in full, subscription may also be required).
Dr Ross Perry
Dr Ross Perry regularly provides expert comment and advises the media on a range of skincare and health-related issues.
He has particular expertise in skin surgery mole removal and melanoma; having removed thousands of moles in his career, both within the NHS and privately through Cosmedics Skin Clinics. He has provided expert advice on sun damage and sun protection for a variety of UK media and publications.
Cosmedics Skin Clinics
Cosmedics Skin Clinics was established in 2003 and has built up an excellent reputation for cosmetic and medical treatments, carried out by GMC Registered Doctors. The company offer a full range of cosmetic treatments, including popular lip enhancement and wrinkle relaxing injections, dermal fillers; plus medical treatments including mole removal, thread vein treatment and excessive sweating injections.
Cosmedics Skin Clinics has a team of skin treatment doctors and surgeons in their 5 skin clinics across London and Bristol led by Dr Ross Perry.
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