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Summer is coming, and we have already experienced a blissful tease of what is yet to come weather wise, including all the fun, events and experiences that warmer weather brings with it. To make sure you get to make the most of the upcoming summer ensure you’re up to date on your sun safety knowledge and protecting yourself and your loved ones against harmful rays!
As the past four years have been the hottest four on record around the globe. The heat across the globe in 2018 has already set all kinds of records, including the hottest temperature ever measured in Africa and the hottest overnight temperature ever recorded. Unfortunately, this temperature increase is expected to continue.
Extreme heat isn’t just uncomfortable, it can also have serious effects on our physical health, mental well-being, and cognitive ability. A number of studies show that as temperatures climb, we perform more slowly and more inaccurately on cognitive tests. This phenomenon affects everyone from students taking standardized tests to office workers trying to get through the day.
What To Look Out For:
Heat Exhaustion – Increasing body temperature
Symptoms: Heavy sweating, clammy skin, dehydration, tiredness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, cramps and a quick, weak pulse.
Solution: Move to a cool location, sip water, take a cool bath or put a cool wet towel over your body. If these symptoms persist for more than an hour, or worsen and include vomiting, seek medical assistance.
Heat Stroke – When a body temperature reaches 40 degrees or higher,
Symptoms: Similar to heat exhaustion, yet may have a fast, strong pulse, feel confusion, may be losing consciousness, and may stop sweating
Solution: Move to a cool place, put cool towels over them or in a cool bath and seek emergency medical assistance.
Skin Damage: UVA causes damage to the skin, contributes to sunburn, and increases the chance of skin cancers. UVB rays trigger sunburn, and play a key role in the development of skin cancer.
Symptoms: Sunburn, Actinic Keratoses, Actinic Cheilitis, Age Spots, Moles, Rosacea, Wrinkles, Poikiloderma of Civatte
Solution: Protecting yourself with sun safety methods and always using SPF that protects against UVA & UVB, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that you should look for the words “broad spectrum” on sunscreen labels, which means the cream/spray/lotion covers a range of UV wavelengths, SPF 50 is a good choice, reapply every two hours, and immediately after you sweat or swim.
Skin Cancer: Abnormal growth of skin cells
- Basal cell carcinoma
Beginning in the basal cells in the outer layer of skin, basal cell carcinomas may appear as a pearly or waxy bump, as well as a flat, flesh-coloured or brown scar-like lesion.
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Also in the outer layer of skin, this type of skin cancer forms in squamous cells. It often appears as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly, crusty surface.
Melanoma makes up a small fraction of skin cancers, but it’s also the most deadly. Symptoms of melanoma include a large brown spot with darker speckles; a mole that changes in colour, size or feel, or that bleeds. A small lesion with an abnormal border and sections that appear red, white, blue or bluish-black; and dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your nose, mouth, vagina or anus.
Recommendations For Avoiding Skin Cancer:
- Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
These are the peak hours of sun strength ─ even in the winter and on cloudy days.
- Wear sunscreen — at least sun protection factor 15 — throughout the entire year
Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing
Hats with wide brims and clothing that covers your arms and legs are helpful. Sunscreen doesn’t block all UV rays, which cause skin cancer.
- Self-check your skin
If you notice differences, consult your healthcare provider.
“Anyone can get skin cancer, but those at a higher risk include individuals who have a heavy exposure to UV rays, lighter skin, family history of skin cancer, prevalent moles, numerous severe sunburns in the past, weakened immune system and those who live in sunny or high-altitude climates,” states Dr. Cockerill , Mayo Clinic Oncologist, “Skin cancer is treatable
How To Use Sunscreen Effectively?
- Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen for UVA and UVB protection
- Use Sunscreen alongside protective clothing, such as wide brimmed hats and shading
- Higher SPF will only provide a slight increase in UV protection, yet you will have to apply it more often
- Apply generously, thoroughly and thickly
- Apply even when cloudy, all year round
- Always apply sunscreen generously, thickly and evenly to children 6 months +, alongside sun protection clothing. Always keep children under 6 months away from the sun.
- Re-apply every 2 hours, as well as immediately after swimming and heavily sweating
- Water resistant means that the SPF is maintained for up to 40 minutes while swimming or sweating, very water resistant means the SPF is maintained for 80 minutes – always reapply after swimming or heavily sweating
- If using a sunscreen with insect repellent, only reapply every 6 hours, using a sunscreen without insect repellent every 2 hours or after swimming or heavily sweating
- Creams are useful if you have dry skin — especially for your face. Lotions are often preferred for application on large areas. Lotions tend to be thinner and less greasy than creams. Gels work best in hairy areas, such as the scalp and a man’s chest or legs. Sticks are useful when applying sunscreen around the eyes. Sprays are easy to apply yet hard to know how effective your coverage is, so apply generously and evenly, potentially use a cream first and a spray later on to reapply
Points to remember:
- Use sunscreen effectively as described above
- Avoid burning
- Be cautious of sun reflective surfaces
- Wear protective clothing & sunglasses
- Plan outdoor activities for less sunnier times of day
- Avoid sun from 10am-4pm
- Seek shade when outside and avoid direct sunlight
- Use sunscreen on
- Get regular annual skin checks done by your healthcare practitioner and self-check your body once a month. Seek medical advice should you notice any abnormalities.
- Drink more water and stay hydrated as well as eating regularly and sufficiently