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Get ready for summer – a small reminder

We know that sunny weather is welcomed by most but here’s a small reminder of how to make sure you stay healthy in the sun.

Make sure your sun protection is effective

If you have fair skin that easily burns, a family history of skin cancer, lots of moles, are exposed rarely to intense sun or are being treated with immunosuppressive drugs then you are more vulnerable than others to the risk of skin cancer and should restrict your exposure.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) recommends generous applications of sun cream or sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and with a high (four or five-star) UVA (ultraviolet A rays) rating, as well as protective shade and clothing.

Check your sunscreen is not past its expiry date. Most sun creams have a shelf life of two to three years and after that date they won’t protect you. Additionally, if the lotion has been stored at high temperatures or in sunlight it may start to separate, which also ruins its effectiveness.

Look after your eyes too

Without proper eye protection a day in the sun can cause a temporary but painful burn to the surface of the eye, similar to sunburn.

“The sun releases energy in many forms,” says Jane Wesely, ophthalmic sister at Benenden Hospital. “The sunlight we see is one, the heat we feel from the sun is another. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, a third type, are also invisible to the eye. These UV rays can damage your eyes and hurt your vision.

“In the UK for most of the year the exposure of UV is small. However as the summer comes and we spend more time outside your eyes will need more protection. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a wide-brimmed hat are a wonderful way of protecting your eyes.”

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) says that high exposure to UV rays is a risk factor for the development of cataracts. Seek out sunglasses with a CE mark (and/or British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1), which show they’re made to an agreed standard. 

As with skin protection it’s worth remembering that UV exposure is higher where there are more reflective surfaces (for example near the sea or when skiing).

Look after those who can’t look after themselves

Babies and children need extra care in the sun. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin and early damage could lead to skin cancer developing in later life.
Children aged under six months should be kept out of strong direct sunlight as they are unable to regulate their body temperature.

Avoid dehydration

When you’re hot your body needs more water to cool it down (and that’s water, not ice-cold beer). Again, remember that children and elderly people may need to be reminded to drink plenty.

If you’re going on holiday this summer remember that Benenden members can receive up to 15% off Benenden Travel Insurance.  Find out more here.