May is an important time for highlighting sun exposure awareness, with both Sun Awareness Week (9th-15th of May) and Skincare Awareness Week (11-17th May) aiming to encourage us all to protect our skin from harmful sun rays, which can cause lasting future skin damage. With summer just around the corner, there’s plenty we can do to protect our skin from cancer causing skin damage and raise awareness too.
Sun Awareness Week – 9th-15th of May
Run by the British Association of Dermatologists and sponsored by La Roche Posey, Sun Awareness Week will commence with the release of the latest findings related to British Sunscreen Habits. Every year the campaign release new survey findings, which in recent years have become more shocking. As well as the BAD, many other organisations and charities are involved in the campaign, including Macmillan and Be Sun Aware. By taking steps to refresh your skincare habits during the week, you can protect your skin from ageing sun damage, as well as skin cancer.
Skincare Awareness Week – 11th-17th May
Skincare Awareness Week, meanwhile, is run by DestinationSkin. Their aim is to help us all become more aware of the importance of exercising the right kind of skincare to protect our skin all year round. This awareness week comes after a recent survey they conducted, which found that:
- 74% of people claimed to be #Skincareaware
- But only 39% wear a specific SPF product
- And less than 20% wear an SPF daily
These figures are concerning and show that many people may not be as skincare aware as they think they are.
Are you at risk from developing skin cancer?
Your risk of developing skin cancer changes depending on factors such as your genes, family history and of course, your lifestyle choices. According to Be Sun Aware, you are more likely to develop skin cancer if:
- -You have pale skin, and are therefore prone to burning
- -You have experienced sunburn, especially severe sunburn in the past
- -You have a high number of moles (more than 50)
- You have a family history of melanoma
- You have a supressed immune system
- You’ve worked outdoors a lot and had much more exposure to the sun
- You use sunbeds or sunbathe regularly
Whilst your risk can be hard to determine, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of developing skin cancer, including taking precautions when in the sun.
Practical ways to lower your risk
- Download the free World UV app for Apple or Android, it gives you a UV rating for wherever you are in the world to help you work out which precautions you need to take when in the sun.
- Wear SPF products daily. Most cosmetics are available with an SPF factor, whilst skincare such as moisturisers can provide you with protection for your face and body for times you don’t think you’re at risk.
- Cover up when the UV rating increases. Lightweight fabrics will keep you cool, reducing your need to bare all and exposing your skin to the sun.
- Make a habit of carrying sun protection with you in the summer months, a travel sized bottle will fit easily into your bag, and you’ll be glad to have it near when you’re unexpectedly faced with a lengthy period in the sun.
We’ve covered ways to enjoy the sun safely and staying safe during heatwaves but there are more practical, everyday things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer and ensure your skin stays youthful.
If you’re concerned about skin cancer, or have developed any moles which you are worried about, contact your doctor. Even if it turns out to be nothing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The NHS Choices website has plenty of useful information about skin cancer, including how to spot it, meaning there’s no excuse not to familiarise yourselves with the signs. With summer coming up and what we hope will be a warm and dry summer, it’s important that you take the right precautions now for your future skin health.