That is the message being given out by dermatologists as the summer approaches and the numbers of people with skin cancer continues to increase.
“High factor sun creams are all well and good but there are times when you really need to cover up – and that means putting a layer of clothing between you and the sunshine,” said Dr Nicholas Craven, a Consultant Dermatologist at Spire Regency Hospital in Macclesfield.
“It is advice we always give to parents to protect their children but, at times, adults should also be doing the same thing when the sun is at its hottest. Even good sun cream loses its protection power after a while whereas a light, long-sleeved tee shirt and pair of cotton trousers will keep you cool and safe all day long.
“I know everyone thinks they look ‘healthier’ with a tan but looks can be deceiving,” said Dr Craven.
“Every year we put out the warnings but every year the skin cancer rates continue to rise.”
With Melanoma Awareness Month and Skincare Awareness Week both taking place in May, Dr Craven said: “If you are out in the sun your skin is in danger and it doesn’t have to be a ‘scorcher’ for you to need protection.
“When the sun is blasting down people do tend to reach from the sun cream but the danger is when there is cloud cover or a breeze that is making everything appear cooler.
“Clouds reduce the amount of ultraviolet A and B radiation that reaches the earth’s surface and our skin, but don’t stop the damaging rays. The actually block more visible light than ultraviolet radiation,” he explained.
Government figures show that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK and rates continue to rise with at least 100,000 new cases diagnosed each year resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
“In the case of young children if it is warm enough for them to be playing out in shorts and tee shirts then the sun is usually strong enough to merit covering them in a protective cream or lotion,” said Dr Craven. “I would also advise that, particularly between 11am and 3pm when the sun rays are at their strongest, you actually put kids in long sleeved tee-shirts and light, long trousers.
“It is advice that a lot of grown-ups would also benefit from. Just because you can’t feel the burn doesn’t mean you aren’t burning!”
“It is always better to be safe than sorry and my advice would be that if you are outdoors in summer take care. Just because you can’t feel the burn doesn’t mean you aren’t burning!”