Did you know that May is skin cancer awareness month?

Prevention is Better Than Cure – Protect Your Skin Against Sun Damage

22 May 2019

The month of May is designated skin cancer awareness month and so, this week, at Renew Skin Clinic, we wanted to remind our readers of the importance of protecting your skin against sun damage. Though in some cases we may be preaching to the converted, there is no harm in a timely reminder at the beginning of the summer about sun protection. There is a scale for measuring different skin types, called the Fitzpatrick Skin Type system. It classifies skin types based on the amount of pigment found in the skin and the skin’s reactivity to the sun.

 

Of the 6 types on the Fitzpatrick scale, most ethnically Irish people tend to have

Fitzpatrick skin types 1 – 3.

 

Type one has the least amount of melanin in the skin and is most reactive to the sun. This skin type always freckles and never tans. If you burn as soon as you look at the sun and then go white again, this is you. Skin type 2 rarely tans, while skin type 3 sometimes tans. Yes, of course, there are plenty of Irish people who do tan, but the majority of us have the skin type which will not tan no matter how long we sit in the sun for. Fitzpatrick skin types 1 and 2 have a high risk of sun damage, premature aging due to sun exposure and an increased risk of developing melanoma at some point during their life. Knowing that your skin is particularly at risk, means that we need to take action to protect it and our greater health.

 

In Ireland, we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world!

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in Ireland. In fact, between 2016 and 2018 alone, over 10,800 cases of skin cancer were diagnosed in Ireland. It can seem shocking considering our weather, however, you can get skin damage from the sun even on a cloudy day.

Usually, most of the damage is done abroad, or over many years of outdoor activity. We take our very fair Irish skin and travel to places that have extremes of sun and don’t protect our skin adequately. This can result in bad sunburn, sunstroke and, over time, skin cancer.

To look after your skin and your overall health, take sun protection seriously. Avoid using sunbeds and over-exposure to the sun. There are plenty of good quality self-tan products on the market, so try one of those instead of damaging your skin for a suntan. If your skin is particularly fair, cover up where you can while in the sun and don’t spend too long in the sun during the hottest part of the day. Wear a pair of UV resistant sunglasses to protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them.

Remember, that some skincare products increase photosensitivity in the skin, meaning that you are more likely to burn quickly after using them. Ask your nurse about the products you’re using on your skin and we will be sure to let you know if this may affect you. Invest in a good quality broad spectrum sunscreen. There are two types of UV light, UVA and UVB, some sunscreens don’t offer protection from both, make sure yours does. At Renew Skin Clinic, we offer premium skincare range Image Skincare, who have sunscreens which offer a physical block between your skin and the UV rays. Ask your nurse what type of sunscreen they recommend for your skin type at your next appointment.

Use your sunscreen properly. Lots of us tend to apply sunscreen in the morning and then forget about it for the day. If you are on holidays and will be in and out of the pool, you need to reapply regularly. Invest in a water-proof sunscreen too, as the water is one of the places where you will burn quickest.

Don’t forget to reapply regularly if you are performing any activity which makes you particularly hot. If you’re sweating your sunscreen will come away easily leaving your skin exposed. It is worth investing in a facial sunscreen which is developed specifically to protect the delicate skin on your face and prevent premature aging. Don’t forget your other delicate areas such as your ear and the soles of your feet.

Be careful not to use sunscreen once it is past its use by date on the container. Although it may look and smell perfectly good, it may no longer offer the full protection it should. Apply your sunscreen liberally for the season and purchase a new one the following year.

Also by wearing an antioxidant which protects from free radicals you are extra protected by up to 90% from the UV rays, so always try and apply this under your SPF. The good news is that when found and treated early, most skin cancer is very treatable with good results for the patient. But when it comes to your health, prevention is always better than cure.

Don’t risk your health when it comes to the sun. As always, if you have any questions about your skin health, any of our staff members will be only too happy to chat with you about it. You can book an appointment online or contact your nearest Renew Skin Clinic.