Statistics collected by WHO state that between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers are reported globally each year. These cases are a direct result of skin damage caused by overexposure to the sun.
Although women don’t win an award for their efforts either, it seems that men are the most ignorant when it comes to applying the sunscreen. In a recent study only 14.3% of men say that they regularly apply sunscreen (compared to a 29,9% among women, who use it mostly on their face). It also turns out these men are more vulnerable to certain forms of skin cancer. For instance, German researchers have identified a certain gene, inherent only in males, which makes them more susceptible to melanoma.
Hopefully, the more information circulating the internet regarding the importance of sun damage will build awareness and change the way people treat their skin in future. The younger generation is now the target of some interesting campaigns. For example, Nivea, has created a doll whose skin actually burns when exposed to the sun. Children can see for themselves what happens when they use sun cream on their doll.
Sun protection tips
Keep your family’s skin safe this summer and keep in mind this golden rules:
- Wear protective clothing and sunglasses that filter UV rays.
- Avoid exposure between 10AM and 4PM and seek shade.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after being in the sea.
- Don’t think a tan is fine as long as you don’t get burnt.
- Don’t forget your nose, lips or soles of your feet!
- Don’t be sparing with sunscreen – apply more layers.
Invest in a high quality sunscreen – check the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) sunscreen tips to help you make your decision.
Things you may not know
- Eating some foods can help protect your skin.
For example, the bright red pigment associated with tomatoes is a result of lycopene. Interestingly the properties of this chemical compound are thought to play a role in skin protection, by lessening the skin-damaging effects of UV radiation and reddening. Watermelon, pomegranate and wild salmon are also thought to be “double-duty” foods containing antioxidants, as well as offering a certain level of protection against UV rays. Of course these foods are no substitute for applying sunscreen directly to your skin.
- Sun damage can happen after you go inside.
Research shows that even long after UV exposure, DNA damage caused by the sunlight can still occur. This explains why sunburn sometimes appears only after you have gone back inside. This post-sunlight damage can, just like all sun damage, be prevented by avoiding direct sun exposure for long periods of time. The researchers are looking into the development of special sunscreens which can be used after exposure.
- Melanomas are not always brown.
Most people think they know what to look out for (the well-known, brown irregular spots), but in fact melanomas can be pink or purple, some are smooth to the touch while others are rough, some can be larger whereas others may be very small. If you see an irregularity on your skin, it’s best to get it checked out sooner rather than later.
This summer, remember this golden advice in order to protect your skin and the skin of your family.