How to protect yourself and your family from sun damage this weekend

We’re all so excited to be out and about this weekend – it really feels like the summer is kicking off and the bank holiday weather is making it all the more exciting. We’re meeting friends out in the sunshine, having long, lazy evening drinks on the patio and stretching out at the beach.

And while all this is absolutely needed after the long stretch of lockdown that we’ve have, it’s also absolutely essential to protect ourselves this outdoor summer. CarePlus Pharmacy has issued a timely reminder to people to take proper care of their skin in the summer months, even if we can’t travel to our favourite sunspots abroad.

Woman Wearing White Top

According to the Irish Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of the disease in Ireland, with over 13,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Cormac Spooner from Spooner’s CarePlus Pharmacy in Dublin says: “Given Ireland’s rainy reputation, some people refuse to believe they need sun protection here. With staycations likely the only option for most of this summer, it’s really important you don’t take risks with your health simply because you’re not on a beach thousands of miles away.”

However, the good news is that there are several simple ways to help protect our skin from harmful rays. Cormac has prepared a checklist that everyone should follow when heading outdoors at this time of year:

Watch the Clock

Woman Sitting on Brown Wooden Chair Beside Coconut

Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm. Choose a shaded area, if possible, but be aware that you can still burn in the shade. If you’re spending time in the sun with little ones, it’s also important to use a sunshade on your buggy or pram.

Apply Sunscreen

Look for 'broad spectrum' on the label when choosing your product. This means it will help to block out both UVA and UVB rays. Ensure it has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, or 50 for kids. Apply 15 minutes before you head outdoors and reapply every two hours, particularly after swimming or sweating.

Wear Protective Clothing

Woman Sitting on Gray Rock Near Body of Water

Using clothes to cover your skin is a useful way to block out harmful rays - a shirt or top with a collar and three-quarter length sleeves is a good place to start.

Accessorise

A broad brimmed hat is really important for your head and neck, while wrap-around sunglasses with proper UV protection are a must to protect your eyes - something many people don’t consider.

Check Expiry Dates

Woman Seated on Textile Applying Suncsreen

Like most products, sunscreen has a shelf life so make sure to check the date before you purchase or apply. If you can’t see an expiry date, don’t risk it. Sunscreen that has passed its expiry date is less effective in protecting you against the sun.

If, despite your best efforts, you or someone in your family does get burned in the sun, the most important steps to take are:

  • Get out of the sun and stay out of it for a few days
  • Apply a cool compress such as a damp towel to the burn for about 15 minutes, as soon as you notice it
  • Use over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to relieve pain
  • Take cool showers, or a cool bath might be more gentle on blistered skin
  • Use a moisturiser that contains aloe vera on the affected area, but make sure any other ingredients won’t irritate the damaged skin
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing until the burn heals

Community pharmacists can offer great tips and advice on treating sunburn, and it’s particularly important to get medical advice if a baby or toddler gets burned.

Cormac says “Unfortunately many of us know the pain of a nasty sunburn that can make life difficult for a few days. The problem we now know is that some of that damage can last for years, and even be life-threatening.  By taking a few simple steps, we can minimise the risk of facing that danger. If you have any questions about products that will help keep you safe in the sun, your community pharmacist is a great place to start.”

Check out Careplus’ range of suncare products to protect yourself and your loved ones this summer.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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