The sun is shining, the weather is warming up fast, and it’s time to head out and enjoy everything the great Canadian summer has to offer, from long lazy days by the lakes to hikes in the hills.

It’s also the time when our skin is at its most vulnerable to the harmful effect of the UV rays in sunlight. Amidst all the excitement and enjoyment, we need to think about what to do to protect our skin, and prevent skin cancer.

UV index and sunburn

The UV index is a measure of the strength of the ultraviolet rays which cause skin to burn. The UV index is related to weather conditions, and is shown on TV weather maps when the forecast Index is 3 or higher. ​

The UV index scores are:

  • Low =2 or less
  • Moderate=3 to 5
  • High= 6 to 7
  • Very high = 8 to 10
  • Extreme = 11 or higher

Sun protection is required at UV levels between 3 and 7. UV levels of 8 and above require extra protection, and higher than 10 is tropical strength sun. UVB rays are at their highest between 11am and 3pm. 

UV radiation on cloudy days

It’s important to note that the UV index will be higher than stated in forecasts during sunny breaks on a cloudy day, or if weather conditions improve during the day. Also, up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate through weather conditions such as light cloud, mist, and even fog!

UV radiation and skin damage

If you have even a slight tan, your skin has been already been damaged by UV rays. The skin responds to the higher intensity of UV by darkening, to protect itself. Overexposure to UV rays can also prematurely age your skin, causing:

  • ​More wrinkles
  • Harder ‘leathery’ skin
  • Blotchiness
  • Loss of elasticity
  • Dark patches, often called age spots or liver spots
  • Precancerous changes to your skin

Help at AMG London

At AMG London, we offer a complete service for a variety of skin conditions and treatments.

  • ​Consult the AMG London dermatology clinic for the treatment of skin problems and skin cancer testing 
  • The Rejuv Medi-Spa offers advanced skincare and treatments to reduce the visible signs of skin aging 
  • Our on-site Rexell pharmacy stock a range of sunscreens for all the family – do come in and ask them for advice!

UV protection for your eyes

Sunglasses with proper UVA and UVB protection prevent direct and reflected sunlight light from damaging your eyes. Close-fitting, wrap-around styles are the best. Make sure you wear them all summer, especially near reflective surfaces such as concrete, white sand and water. Overexposure to the sun can cause the lenses in your eyes to prematurely age, including clouding of the lenses and macular degeneration.

Why continual protection is important

Skin damage is cumulative, which means that all those days spent in the sun can add up. The UV exposure affects the DNA in you skin cells, which either die or repair themselves where possible. Cells damaged beyond repair can lead to skin cancer.

What to do to protect your skin

  • Seek out shade wherever possible
  • Wear light clothing that covers your skin as much as possible
  • Wear a wide brimmed-hat rather than a baseball cap, for added protection for your face and neck
  • Choose a sunscreen product that has a SPF of at least 30, and is effective against both UVA and UVB rays. 
  • Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply sunscreen often during the day, especially on hot, humid days.
  • Drink water to keep yourself hydrated

Children and sunburn

Children’s skin is particularly vulnerable to sunburn. A child’s skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes if left unprotected in higher UV levels. Babies are even more vulnerable as they cannot move out of unexpected hot sun into the shade, like a toddler or older child can. If you find it difficult to get your kids to apply sunblock, there’s some great tips in this article.

Skin cancer checks

Figures from the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) reveal that one in three cancers diagnosed annually will be some form of skin cancer. You can check yourself for the early signs of skin cancer, as early detection is key. The Canadian Cancer Society website lists what to look for:

  • pale, pearly nodules (lumps) that may grow larger and crust
  • red or pink patches that are scaly and don’t heal
  • new skin markings such as moles, blemishes, discoloration or bumps
  • changes in the shape, colour, size or texture of a birthmark or mole
  • a sore that doesn’t heal
  • an abnormal area that bleeds, oozes, swells, itches or is red and bumpy
If you have any concerns, consult your doctor immediately.

And there’s more

For further information on how to keep safe in the sun this summer, see the websites below. And as the Australians say: Slip, Slop, Slap – Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat.

Have fun in the sun!

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