This is a Book Week guest post for the Fly Away theme by Rachel Newcombe of Cosy Home Blog.
With the arrival of the summer months and the school holidays looming on the horizon, it’s great to get some better weather and it’s good to be able to spend time outside. But whether you’re at home or on holiday, taking care of your skin, and your children’s, should be a priority.
Sun safety and putting on sunscreen before you go out can seem like a bit of a chore, but the risk of skin cancer is alive and real. The statistics are scary – malignant melanoma is now one of the most common forms of skin cancer in 15 to 34 year olds – and sun damage starts from a young age.
Babies and children are at particular risk from sun damage, as their skin is so delicate and easily affected. Although skin cancer is rare in young children, damage to the skin cells is stored and builds up and can develop into skin cancer later in life. In fact, research has shown that being sunburnt during childhood is linked to an increased risk of skin cancer later in life.
Despite the increased awareness of skin cancer issues these days, compared to when we were young, many people still strive to get a tan, spending hours lying out in the heat of the sun or using sunbeds for a quick fix. Yet the very nature of your skin changing colour after exposure to the sun shows that it’s been damaged.
Even if you’re not actively trying to get a tan, being out and about in the sunshine – especially the strong heat of the midday sun – without sun protection increases the risk of getting sunburnt. Sunburn is never pleasant to experience, but even when the red skin has cooled down, peeled and flaked away, the effects of the damage remain and can cause problems in the future.
Developing a Sun Safety Strategy
There are various practical steps you can take to keep your family safe in the sun (covering up with a hat, sunglasses, loose t-shirt and sitting in the shade), but one method is to get into the habit of using sunscreen if you don’t already do so.
Putting on sunscreen doesn’t have to be a long-winded affair. In fact, once you start doing it regularly, it will become part of your familiar routine – and as children get older, they’ll know what to do and, hopefully, why they’re applying it too.
No sunscreen offers complete protection against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, but it’s a great help in the battle against skin damage and is reassuring as a parent to know you’re doing your bit.
Apply sunscreen to clean, dry skin first thing in the morning, or 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Be generous with how much you use and don’t forget to cover vulnerable areas, such as the neck, hands, feet and behind the ears!
If you’re on a beach holiday, or your children are constantly in and out of water, then re-apply sunscreen regularly for full benefit.
My book, Skin Cancer and Sun Safety: The Essential Guide, covers more details about the benefits of using sunscreen, plus other safety and prevention methods, as well as looking at the facts and reality of different forms of skin cancer.
It’s not intended to scare, but is intended to help parents, families and individuals of all ages understand the dangers of sun damage and develop ways to reduce the risks. If you’re worried about moles, or want to learn how to check your skin for signs of changes, then full details of what to look for and when to see a doctor are covered.
Chapters are also included to help and advise those going through the worry of skin cancer, including a look at the various treatment options available. For more details about the book, see http://www.skincancerandsunsafety.com/
Skin Cancer and Sun Safety: The Essential Guide by Rachel Newcombe is published by Need2Know (http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk) and costs £8.99.