The summer has finally arrived in the UK and we all want to enjoy it but make sure you are looking after your skin if you do!
Many people don’t realise that when you attend for an oral health examination your dentist will also be inspecting you skin around your head and neck for any signs of skin cancers. We may not make a big deal about it but trust me we are looking and will inform you to see your GP if we see anything worrying.
This is a topic close to our heart as I myself had skin cancer on my nose 4 years ago and I know of a number of people who have had it, with 1 in 5 of us likely to have skin cancer by age 70. The most common areas to develop skin cancer are face, scalp, ears and neck due to the frequent exposure to sunlight. You can dramatically reduce your risk by looking after your skin.
Here’s our top 7 tips:
- Hydrate- Maintain fluid intake as dehydration will dry the skin making it more likely to burn.
- Never expose the skin to the sun unprotected- where possible protect the skin with clothing and if not use an appropriate level SPF.
- Apply plenty of sun cream to the skin- people often use to little suncream, an average adult should use 3 tablespoons to adequately cover themselves.
- Select a SPF that corresponds to your skin type- fair, sensitive skin, children and skin not yet tanned by sun exposure are more likely to get damaged so need a higher SPF.
- Lips, ears, nose and the nape of the neck are often forgotten- make sure these areas are covered.
- Avoid sun exposure between 11am and 3pm- this is when the sun is strongest.
- Reapply several times a day- most creams only last between 40 mins and an hour.
So cream, cream, cream to stay safe!
But what type of cream should I choose?
In recent years there has been a lot of research into suncreams and there effects on our body.
There are two types of cream – Chemical and mineral.
Traditional and most conventional commonly known suncreams are chemical based. They are synthetic UV filters that are absorbed by the skin where the UV rays are converted to heat. They require 30 minutes to work, which most people often forget and go instantly into the sun. Scientific studies also show that these chemicals are potentially dangerous due to their high allergy and hormone-like effect that can occur in the body. Finally they also impact on marine life so if going in the sea it is best they are avoided.
The other type is a mineral, plant-based product. These use mineral UV filters with natural mineral pigments that reflect and disperse sunlight much like a small mirror and take effect immediately after application. These products work immediately! It is not easy to find these in mainstream shops and supermarkets but easily found online, though they are more expensive.
The most important thing is to cream whichever type you choose. Remember to regularly check your skin for scaly patches or moles and if anything new appears and doesn’t go in two weeks you should get it checked by your GP. If your coming regularly for your examinations we will keep an eye on you too!