Red or dead this summer?
Oh dear, the sun is barely out and the country has thrown caution to the wind – the place is awash with lobster-red people. Here’s a reminder about why you should wear sunscreen…
With our pale complexions, Ireland has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world – a disease that accounts for more than 100 deaths here each year – one in eight men and one in 10 women in Ireland will develop skin cancer.
What’s the harm in a bit of sunburn?
Well. a person’s risk for melanoma–the most serious form of skin cancer–doubles with five or more sunburns.
Why do we burn?
The damage is done by UVA and UVB rays – two of the three types of ultra-violet light found in the sun’s rays. UVA and UVB rays both burn our skin. However, UVB is behind most cases of sunburn and the majority of skin cancers.
UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, causing it to lose its elasticity and age. It also causes the production of free radicals – dangerous chemicals linked to cancer. Both UVA and UVB are thought to cause malignant melanoma – the most dangerous form of cancer.
There is no such thing as a safe tan…
We all like the sun, but caution is necessary. It is advisable to avoid the sun between 11am-3pm when UV rays are highest. People should adopt sun smart practices all day long in order to protect their skin from skin cancers and premature ageing of the skin.
How much sunscreen do I need?
Experts recommend that we use 20ml of sunscreen per square metre of skin. This equates to almost four tablespoons per application when sunbathing in swimwear.
Applied properly, a 400ml bottle should not last one person much more than a week. Many people use just a third of this, so experts recommend you top up your protection with a second application half an hour after the first. Ideally, the cream should be reapplied every one to two hours.
Sadly, there is no such thing as water-resistant sunscreen. Most sunscreens will lose their sun-proofing effect in less than 40 minutes, which means if you’re taking a dive you need to top up every half hour or so.