Sun Safe | Do you check your skin?

Teladoc Health nurses Amanda and Kate share their top tips in this article.


To be sun-safe, the simplest and most important thing is to wear sunscreen and a hat or cover your skin. Easy things like this save your skin from harmful and painful damage caused by the sun when overexposed to its rays. Over-exposure can cause serious damage to your body, with two common types of cancers. One is non-melanoma, and melanoma, which is by far the most dangerous skin cancer. This simple reason is enough to look after your skin, stay in the shade, and be safe in the sun.


Check your skin once a month

Early skin cancer detection is very important, so you should check your skin regularly, ideally once a month. Get someone to help check difficult-to-see areas, like your back and the backs of your legs. Don’t forget the soles of your feet, between your toes, scalp, neck, and nails. 

It would help if you were looking for:

  • New skin lumps, spots, ulcers, scaly patches, or moles that weren’t there before
  • Marks (including moles) on the skin that have changed shape, color, texture, or size
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Any areas on the skin that are itchy, painful, or bleed

The ABCDE rules are an easy way to remember how to check for changes that might indicate melanoma. Please download the Melanoma Guide

  • A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
  • B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched, or scalloped borders. 
  • C is for colour changes. Look for growths that have many colours or an uneven distribution of colour.
  • D is for diameter. Tell your doctor if you see a mole or ‘mole-like’ mark that gets bigger over weeks or months.
  • E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole growing or changing colour or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.

Report these to your doctor as soon as possible. Skin cancer is much easier to treat if it’s found early.


How strong is the sun?

Use the UV index to find out how strong the sun’s UV rays are – if it is three or above, it’s time to consider our sun safety steps.

Keep in the shade, particularly when the sun is at its strongest. This is generally between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the UK from March through October. Take extra care with children, pregnant ladies, or the elderly. Children under six months should be removed from direct, strong sunlight altogether. 


Know your sunscreen

When buying sunscreen, the label should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB. SPF measures the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection. SPFs are rated on a scale of 2 to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 2 being the least protection and 50+ the most robust protection. At least 4-star UVA protection – UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters. Always make sure the sunscreen is within its expiry date. The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection it offers. A star rating of up to 5 stars on UK sunscreens provides the best protection.


Apply sunscreen

How Sun Aware Are You? - Teladoc Health UK

Adults should aim to apply approximately seven teaspoons when covering the entire body. If you plan to spend time in the sun long enough to risk burning, sunscreen should always be applied twice: around 30 minutes before going out and just as you are about to leave. Sunscreen should be applied to all skin, including the face, neck, ears, arms, legs, feet, and head.  If you are thinning or have baldness, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

According to the manufacturer’s instructions, sunscreen must be reapplied liberally and frequently. Usually, every two hours, more if in and out of the pool. Water washes sunscreen off, and the cooling effect of the water can make you think you’re safe. Water also reflects ultraviolet (UV) rays, increasing your exposure. Sunscreen should be reapplied straight after you have been in the water, even if it is “water resistant,” and after towel drying or sweating.

Protect your eyes

A day at the beach without proper eye protection can cause a painful burn to the eye’s surface, similar to sunburn and just as painful. Sunglasses should carry the CE Mark and British Standard Mark 12312-1:2013 E to ensure they provide full protection.


The right clothing

Wear sun protection clothes like a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, neck, and ears. Also, wear long-sleeved tops, trousers, or long skirts in close-weave fabrics—these do not let the sun penetrate.


Enjoy the sun, and stay safe. 🙂




Author: Kate Abbitt and Amanda James, Teladoc Health UK


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