A Swindon consultant dermatologist says Sun Awareness Week, which this year runs from 6thto 12thMay, is a good time to remember the importance of taking steps to prevent sunburn this summer.

Sun Awareness Week is part of the British Association of Dermatologists’ annual campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer.

More than one in three British people admits to begins sunburnt in the last year while in the UK, and of those almost 30 per cent said they were burned three times or more. And of those people who went abroad, almost half said they sustained sunburn while away.

Most of those who did suffer sunburn said they had underestimated the strength of the sun, but failing to reapply sun cream often enough, and not applying it after swimming were also common mistakes.

Dr Lindsay Whittam, a consultant dermatologist with Swindon’s private healthcare provider, Shalbourne, says while most of us love spending time in the sunshine, it’s important to take steps to prevent skin burning, and it’s equally important to examine our skin for changes that could signal skin cancer.

“Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and the rates have been rising since the 1960s,” says Dr Whittam.

“But many peoplestill feel that sunburn is just part of enjoying the great outdoors in summer.

“There are some simple ways of protecting your skin in the UK and abroad. When the sun is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm in summer, spend your time in shade wherever possible. If you have to be in the sun, cover yourself with a hat, T-shirt or shirt and sunglasses. Importantly, apply sunscreen liberally to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours or as soon as you finish swimming or towelling. Sweat can remove sunscreen, so if your perspiring, top up the protection more often. Use a high factor sunscreen, ideally factor 50, which also has a high UVA * protection.”

There are three main types of skin cancer –basal cell carcinoma which is the most common but least dangerous, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma (a cancerous mole) which is less common but potentially more dangerous. With melanoma in particular it’s important to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible, so tell your doctor about any changes to your skin and in particular changes to any moles. If your GP is concerned, you should be referred to a dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer.

About Shalbourne

Shalbourne, which offers a wide range of treatments with no waiting times, is conveniently located on the same site as Swindon’s Great Western Hospital.

Patients don’t have to have medical insurance to access Shalbourne. Its fixed price packages are surprisingly affordable and allow patients who don’t wish to join a waiting list to fund their own treatment privately.

Shalbourne offers modern diagnostic, medical treatments and surgery for common and complicated disorders.

A highly competent team of nurses support all Shalbourne’s consultants, as well as ensuring patients receive the best possible care in a friendly and professional environment.

For more information on treatments and facilities at Shalbourne, contactgwh.shalbournereservations@nhs.netor call reception on 01793 646060 or 01793 646061.

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