Practice Sun Safety!

In April 2022’s issue of Townlands we published an article about the work of Matt’s Fund, a local charitable association raising funds for research into Malignant Melanoma and skin cancer in memory of their son, Matthew Boulton from Welton, who was 24 years old when he died in March 2008 after a 4 year battle with Malignant Melanoma.

After 15 years of fundraising and providing education, the family have fulfilled Matthew’s wish of giving back for the care received and have concluded that it is time to wind up their activities and close the books of the fund. Collectively, they managed to raise and donate over £220,000 which made an incredible difference in researching Malignant Melanoma.

Treatment and awareness now in comparison to 15 years ago have made significant advances and leaps, but it is still important to continue pushing the message and highlight the dangers of exposure to the sun.

Sun Awareness Week is doing just that and each year, supported by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) and the British Skin Foundation (BSF), it is a chance to encourage people to be safe when outside. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and rates have been climbing since the 1960s. Sun damage which starts in childhood can lead to skin cancer later in life and being burnt just one time has the potential to mutate in the future and become cancerous.

No matter what skin type you have, you must protect it from the sun and frequently check your skin thoroughly for signs of change – skin cancer does not discriminate. It is a common misconception that people with darker skin tones are immune to sun damage and skin cancer; this is not true. Bob Marley had Melanoma under his big toenail but refused treatment on religious grounds. He died at the age of 36, proving that skin colour is no barrier to Melanoma.

There is also a common misconception that you must be an avid sunbather to be at risk, this is also false. One instance of sunburn is all it takes.

The Sun Awareness Week, this year taking place between the 1st and 7th May, marks the start of a summer long campaign to provide people with information so they can practice sun safety. This year’s campaign focus will be on the need for sun protection in the UK climate, aiming to tackle misconceptions that sun protection is rarely needed in the UK.

To stay safe, remember to:

  • Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
  • Cover up with long sleeved tops and trousers or long skirts in close-weave fabrics that do not allow sunlight through.
  • Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, neck and ears.

Use and reapply sun protection with at least SPF 30 and UVA 4 stars every 2 hours and remember that water washes sunscreen off, so sunscreen should be reapplied straight after you have been in the water, even if it is labelled as ‘water resistant’.