As the warm summer days invite us outdoors, it's important to remember that while the sun brings us joy and vital vitamin D, it can also pose risks to our skin and overall health.

This column aims to shed light on the essential ways to stay "sun smart" this summer, ensuring your skin remains protected and healthy. 

Embrace sunscreen: Sun cream is your best defence against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Purchase and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Apply it generously on all exposed areas of skin, including often-neglected areas like the ears, nose, back of the neck, and the tops of feet. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.

Seek shade: When the sun is at its strongest, typically between 10am and 4pm, it is important to seek shade whenever possible.

Shade offers additional protection and allows your skin to rest from direct exposure to UV rays from the sun. Remember, even on cloudy days, UV rays can still reach your skin, so don't let your guard down.

Cover up: Wearing protective clothing can significantly reduce sun damage. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting garments that cover as much skin as possible. Wide-brimmed hats offer shade to your face, neck, and ears, while sunglasses with UV protection protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Keep hydrated: While it's easy to forget, staying hydrated is crucial, especially during hot weather. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.

Sweating, even without realising it, can cause fluid loss, which can impact your health and skin's moisture levels, so stay hydrated.

Be mindful of medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, antihistamines, and some acne treatments, can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun.

Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to understand if any of your medications could pose such risks. If necessary, take extra precautions to protect your skin.

Check your skin: Regularly examining your skin for any changes is vital in detecting early signs of skin cancer.

Look for new moles, changes in existing moles, or any suspicious growths. If you notice anything unusual, consult a healthcare professional promptly for evaluation.

Protect your lips: Don't forget to protect your lips from the sun as well. Choose a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher and apply it frequently throughout the day.

This simple step can prevent painful sunburn, cracking of the lips and significantly reduces the risk of developing lip cancer.

Remember, whilst it is important to be "sun smart" during hot weather, protecting your skin is a year-round responsibility.

Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays is essential for maintaining healthy skin and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

So, this summer, please embrace the sunshine but remember to keep your and your loved ones’ skin safe.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the warmth and outdoors with peace of mind, knowing you're taking proactive steps to protect your skin and overall health.