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London Private Hospital, The Harley Street Clinic

Latest News

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August 22nd 2016

Save your skin with these summer safety tips

It’s no secret that the summer can take its toll on our skin. Anyone who has been badly sun burnt can attest to the pain and discomfort that a day of unprotected sun exposure can cause. However, the sun’s rays can also cause long term damage that’s not immediately evident, such as ageing, winkles and sometimes even skin cancer.
With the changeable British summer now in full flow and many of us preparing to jet off to warmer climes, The Harley Street Clinic’s team of expert dermatologists is encouraging the British public to get serious about their skin. To help with this Dr Iaisha Ali, Consultant Dermatologist at The Harley Street Clinic, has revealed her top tips for staying safe in the sun this summer.

Make sunscreen part of your daily beauty routine

Sunscreen should be applied half an hour before sun exposure to allow time for your skin to absorb it. When on holiday I put it on first thing, so that by the time I’ve had breakfast I’m ready to hit the beach.
It’s also important to reapply throughout the day; around every two hours or immediately after swimming.

Find your perfect match – it’s out there!

There are plenty of products on the market to choose from, so you’re bound to find a sunscreen suitable for your skin type. If you have blemish-prone skin or acne, use an oil-free or non-comedogenic sunscreen which will help prevent blocked pores.
For those with a darker skin type, tinted sunscreens are available to provide a better cosmetic effect. If you have sensitive skin, try using a sunscreen for children.
Whatever your skin type, you should wear a minimum of SPF 30. Choose one that is water resistant, with the UVA symbol and at least four star rating.

Accessorise your sunscreen

It’s important to bear in mind that sunscreen will never provide complete protection. I always accessorise with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to provide extra shelter for the sensitive skin on my face and neck – which can show ageing effects of sun damage the most.
If possible, I’d also recommend staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm (the perfect time for a leisurely lunch and siesta) when the sun is at its strongest and can do the most damage.

Know your (UV) A, B, C

The sun emits three types of radiation, known as UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVC radiation is blocked by the ozone layer so only UVA and UVB rays reach the Earth.
UVB rays reach the outer layer of the skin and can cause burning and contribute to skin cancer. UVA rays can penetrate the middle layer of your skin. In addition to causing skin burning and contributing to cancer, these rays can cause the skin to age and produce wrinkles.

Stay safe indoors

Many people don’t know that glass usually filters out UVB rays, but not UVA rays. It’s important to bear this in mind for long car journeys or if you sit close to a window at work.

Incorporate plant power into your holiday diet

Eating the right foods can actually help protect your skin in the sun. Some plants produce chemicals called anthocyanins in their leaves and stems, which help prevent UV damage. Dark purple or blue fruits and dark green leaves are a great source of anthocyanins, so I encourage my patients to tuck into foods such as plums, blueberries, purple asparagus and aubergine. During the summer I take an anthocyanin supplement and recommend this as an easy way to boost your skin’s protection.

You only need a small dose of Vitamin D

Some of my patients worry about not getting enough Vitamin D in their daily lives, but I reassure them that as little as 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure per day is enough to meet our skin’s requirements. Plus it can also be found in foods including milk, oily fish, egg yolk and fortified cereal.

NEVER use a sunbed

It can be tempting to try to give your tan a head start before you jet off on holiday, but statistics show that using sun beds can seriously damage the skin. Using a sunbed before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 59% and regular sunbed use under the age of 30 increases the risk of skin cancer by 75%.
Sun bed use is thought to be a contributory factor to the rise of malignant melanoma amongst women in their twenties, so it’s really not worth putting your health at risk.

Be mindful of your moles

I always tell my patients to check for early signs of melanoma, which is a skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. The most common sign is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole, and a melanoma may also itch, bleed or have an irregular shape. If you are worried about any of your moles I would recommend booking an appointment immediately to get checked out.
The Harley Street Clinic runs a mole-mapping service, where we scan all the moles on your body for indications of cancer. Ours is the only service run by consultants, which means we can remove anything we suspect could be cancer on the day, rather than referring you on to a specialist. We scan your entire body for signs of cancer, so you can walk away from your appointment assured that anything worrying has been picked up by our state of the art scanning equipment.