I’m a dermatologist – here are my 9 key tips on staying safe in the sun

British people are enjoying the sun this weekend.

Highs of 22C (71.6F) are expected in London, Southampton and Glasgow on Saturday and the summer sun is expected to last all week.

However, dermatologists have been urging those who enjoy the sun to enjoy the warm temperatures responsibly due to concerns over rising cases of skin cancer.

Nearly nine in ten cases of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, can be prevented by staying safe in the sun, experts warn.

Dr. Elizabeth Blakeway-Manning, a dermatologist consultant in Yorkshire and the medical ambassador for the Melanoma Fund, shared her top tips for staying safe outside the home with MailOnline.

Dr. Elizabeth Blakeway-Manning, a dermatologist consultant in Yorkshire and the medical ambassador for the Melanoma Fund, shared her top tips for staying safe outside the home with MailOnline

Cancer Research UK says the number of skin cancers has more than doubled since the 1990s and sun exposure is the culprit in nine out of ten cases.

There are two types of skin cancer: melanoma, which forms in the lower layer of the skin’s epidermis, and non-melanoma, which forms in the upper layers.

Melanoma is the much more deadly type – accounting for nearly three times the number of non-melanoma deaths each year.

Overall, more than 3,000 people will die from skin cancer each year in the UK, while nearly 10,000 people will lose their lives to the disease each year in the US.

Too much UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds can damage the DNA in skin cells, allowing them to grow out of control and cause skin cancer.

Exposure to UV rays can also cause premature skin aging, including wrinkles, age spots and sagging, according to skin cancer charity, the Melanoma Fund.

But while sunscreen is vital for UV protection, there are other ways to protect your skin from the rays.

Clothing is the most important protection

Your first line of defense should be clothing – and you should make sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas.

Clothing absorbs or blocks harmful UV rays

But as the day heats up, it’s a “natural impulse to take clothes off,” the experts said.

This can mean leaving the skin uncovered, making it essential to apply cream to these areas.

Dr. Blakeway-Manning, who is also a dermatologist consultant at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, also recommends always wearing a hat, such as a hat with a Legionnaires visor at the back or a wide brim.

This is because your forehead, scalp, and ears are particularly vulnerable.

Shade protects against UV rays

For those less fond of the heat, the shade provides a welcome reprieve.

But it is also a good way to give your skin a break from powerful UV rays between tanning sessions.

The experts say shade, along with clothing, is the best UV protection.

If shade is hard to come by, they recommend using temporary structures such as gazebos, tarps, or sports umbrellas.

The best sunscreen is SPF30+, non-greasy

A broad-spectrum SPF30+ product in a non-greasy formula is the ideal sunscreen choice, according to the experts.

“As a parent, lead by example and apply it to your skin as well as theirs,” Ms Baker added.

You should apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside to ensure it has time to set and dry. This also prevents it from running into your eyes when you start to sweat.

It’s also important to pay special attention to your ears and nose – areas that many people forget.

“If you use technical protective equipment, make sure you apply a non-greasy sunscreen beforehand to prevent the product from compromising its effectiveness,” the experts added.

Check whether your sunscreen is still past its expiration date

Most sunscreens have a shelf life of three years.

But the more often the bottle is opened and closed, the more likely it is that germs will contaminate the bottle and accelerate decomposition.

And the experts said that this contamination is much more likely from dirty hands, such as hands covered in sand from the beach.

It is recommended to write the first use date on the bottle to remind yourself how long it has been open.

Always reapply sunscreen even once a day

Reapplying all types of sunscreens is recommended every two hours, even for once-a-day formulas.

The experts claimed this is because no matter how diligently you apply it, parts of the body are likely to be overlooked, which can leave certain areas of skin vulnerable throughout the day.

Perspiration, water, and wiping away grime can all remove even a product you only use once a day, especially if you’re involved in strenuous outdoor activities.

Wear light fabrics with a tight weave

Wearing light clothing that is tightly woven is best in the sun, said Dr Blakeway-Manning and Ms Baker.

These provide the best protection because a tight weave leaves very few gaps between them, preventing rays from filtering through.

The experts said: ‘You can test suitability by holding the fabric up to the sun.

‘If no or minimal light filters through, you’re good.’

Don’t be caught by rays

Many people get burned by the weather, the experts said.

Often you can start an activity early in the morning when the weather is mild, but then it will be a hot day. This can then lead to sunburn, they claimed.

In addition, it is possible to burn on cloudy days. This is because clouds offer little protection against the UV rays.

To find out if sun protection is needed, check the UV index, which can be found on weather websites.

The experts recommend using sun protection when the UV is only 3 or higher.

Never use tanning beds

Many people have a desire to tan their skin, whether through tanning beds or through faking it.

But tanning beds emit UV light – and in some doses are even stronger than the tropical midday sun – that can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Signs of skin damage are not always obvious for up to 20 years.

But they usually start with a mole that has changed color or appearance, which can scab or bleed later, according to the NHS.

Dr. Blakeway-Manning and Ms Baker have emphasized that if you want to tan safely, ‘fake it and never use tanning beds’.

Sun exposure is necessary for vitamin D

Despite the need to protect your skin from the rays, it can also be beneficial.

Exposure to sunlight is necessary to maintain healthy vitamin D reserves in the body, which is essential for calcium absorption.

Vitamin D is made when the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with a protein in the skin called 7-DHC.

The experts say that 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to the face and arms is generally recommended as a minimum, but the skin can turn red in less time.

Sun exposure two or three times a week in the summer months is sufficient, she added.