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  • Writer's pictureJames Martin

The heatwave is over, but there will be another!

I hope everyone enjoyed the heatwave as much as I did and I hope everyone didn't get as burnt! That heatwave was a welcome break from the coldest April that I can remember but I certainly neglected looking after my skin. Several long afternoons playing cricket, and some DIY in the garden left me looking like a lobster. It left me thinking that next time I need to be more proactive and look after my skin.

How can I look after my skin when the next heatwave comes around?

Firstly one of the easiest ways to protect your skin is to cover it up. If working outside in direct sunlight, although it can be hot, try and keep a t-shirt and a hat on, particularly if you burn easily.

Are all clothes equal? The simple answer is no. Clothing ranges from different styles and fabrics all offering a range in ultraviolet (UV) protection. So how do we determine what clothes are best? Ultraviolet Protection Factor or UPF, determines how much ultraviolet light will reach the skin. If top has a UPF factor of 50, then only 1/50th of the radiation will reach your skin.

Let's be honest, most of us enjoy sitting in the sun and when it eventually comes out for the 6 weeks of the year, we want to enjoy it. However on those scorching days trying to limit our exposure to the sun, especially in the middle of the day, can really make a difference.

What about sun cream?

We need it. Pretty much all the time. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that a broad-spectrum SPF 15+ should be used every day. Higher SPF should be used when outside for longer periods and it should be reapplied after swimming or sweating and every 2 hours.

So what is SPF?

SPF stands for sun protection factor and gives and indication as to how long the sun's UVB rays take to redden the skin compared to not wearing any sun cream. For example, if you use an SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren't wearing any sun cream.

Its VITAL that sun cream is reapplied regularly. So when I'm next playing cricket, putting it on once before we go out to field is not enough!

Ok, so I've remembered to put on sun cream, but I've still managed to catch the sun. What can I do?

The term "catching the sun" I guess varies on who you ask. For me, I don't tan so catching the sun is never a good thing. Instead I tend to go red and then peel.

Our skin peels when we get burnt because the body is trying to shed the damaged skin cells which are beyond repair. You can get first-degree burns and second-degree burns from the harmful UVB sun rays.

If possible at the first sign of sun burn, you should get out of the sun as soon as possible and begin treatment. Application of aloe-vera products is best to help moisturise the skin and reduce the risk of further damage. If the burn is painful, then taking a cold shower or some ibuprofen can help. Any area of skin where some of it has peel away

will be even more sensitive to UVB radiation.

I know when the next heatwave finally returns I will look after my skin better. Being sunburnt is such an unpleasant experience, and brings with it very real increased risks of developing skin cancer as we get older. Accidents happen, but its how we act after those accidents that matter.

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