Doctor gives tips for staying safe in the sun

Many of us are aware of the importance of using sunscreen, but a new finding may convince more people to apply sun protection regularly. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Channing Lab examined the data of over 100,000 nurses who had participated in a health study – they found that those who had suffered from five blistering sunburns or more between the ages of 15 and 20 years old were 68 per cent more likely to develop common skin cancers and 80 per cent more likely to develop melanoma by the time they were middle aged. Dr. Abrar Qureshi, Chair of Dermatology at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School said: “Sudden large amounts of sun exposure that cause major damage to the skin increase the risk of melanoma as much as having a family history.” He spoke to The Boston Globe about his tips for maximising sun protection when choosing sunscreen, advising people to always choose a lotion over a spray as it can be difficult to know when you’ve applied enough of the latter. That said, he advocates sprays “for hard to reach places like the back”, suggesting that people may prefer to use a combination of the two. Our biggest mistake when using sunscreen, according to Dr. Qureshi, is making the assumption that a high SPF will offer us full-day protection. Sunscreen should be reapplied generously every two hours and immediately after swimming, with the Dr. advising that those using a product with an SPF of 15 or lower should reapply it every hour to protect from burning. There are certain foods, such as spinach, tomatoes and berries, which can help to protect us from the sun, but Dr. Qureshi warned that they should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen. How often do you reapply your sunscreen? Send us a tweet with your sun safety tips.