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Summer has finally arrived! 

Dr Akash Patel & Dr Stephanie Ooi give their top tips on staying safe in the sun this summer. 

Last weekend saw the hottest day of the year so far. While it was a very welcome change and felt like Summer had finally arrived, it’s also important to know how to protect yourself in the sun. No matter where you are, at the beach or the park, sunburn and dehydration can affect you.

Dr Stephanie Ooi says “As a GP and mother myself, I know how vital it is to protect my daughter in the sun. While she is keen to run around and play, I try to ensure we’ve listened to our own advice and taken precautions to ensure she stays safe in hot and sunny weather.

Follow our top 4 tips to make sure you are safe in the sun this summer.

1. Wear Sun Screen

Lets talk about UV rays. Sunlight is made up of different wavelengths of light. The most damaging are UVA & UVB radiation. UVA penetrates deeper and is thought to be responsible for signs of skin ageing such as wrinkles and pigmentation. While UVB is responsible for sunburn.

Wearing sunscreen is important to reduce the risk of skin cancer and signs of skin ageing. I would recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you against both UVA  & UVB radiation. Sunscreen isn’t just for summer, those sun rays can still affect you on a sunny Winter day.

To find out about how your sunscreen protects you, you can take a look at its star rating which shows UVA protection and SPF which denotes protection against UVB radiation.

How does SPF work?

SPF allows you longer protection in the sun before getting burnt. For example, if you would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, SPF 30 offers 30 x 10 minutes of protection from UVB radiation or 300 minutes before you get burnt.

However, there are multiple contributing factors to this which may reduce the length time you are protected, hence why I would not recommend  that you stay out in the sun too long! Other factors like sweating, swimming and adequate application of sunscreen will also affect your level of protection. 

There are two main types of sunscreen: mineral or chemical. They are both effective, however chemical sunscreens take 20-30 minutes to work, while mineral sunscreens form a protective layer and offer immediate protection. These usually use zinc, titanium or iron and those with sensitive skin may prefer using a mineral based option.

I recommend:

  • Using at least SPF 15-30 with UVA protection. 
  • Applying separate sunscreen to the face rather than make-up with SPF.
  • Use at least 2 tsp for the face, neck and arms and 2 tsp for the rest of the body.
  • Reapply every 2 hours but more often if you have been swimming or sweating
  • Think of sunscreen as the last form of skin protection. Use wide brim hats, glasses and light clothing.

2. Stay Hydrated and Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is really important when it is hot. When temperatures are high, your body uses different techniques to cool down. One of these includes sweating which puts you at risk of dehydration. Sweat evaporates from your skin to allow your body to cool down and regulate your temperature, however this does mean you lose more water and this can cause dehydration.

Drinking water will help to replenish any fluids lost from sweating. Becoming dehydrated in the heat can lead to serious heat-related illnesses, so we recommend you carry a cold bottle of water with you when you are out on hot days.

If you become dehydrated or have a heat-related illness, you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately. Those with existing conditions may be at higher risk.

3. Stay in the shade

Staying in the shade is another way you can protect yourself from the sun. It will not only be cooler and therefore reduce sweating but it will also protect you from harmful UV rays. We advise to avoid direct sunlight between 11am – 3pm.

Planning ahead is key here as you cannot guarantee that shade will be available; make sure you take a hat with you or use an umbrella.

4. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses can help to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays. UV rays can cause problems such as cataracts and damage your eyesight without the right protection. We recommend you look for a pair which blocks 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation.