The glorious warmth from the sun due to the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) that gets through the earth’s outer atmosphere is so much stronger at this time of year, causing sunburn, even on cloudy days, and skin cancer, both of which can be prevented by Sunsmart behaviour.
To keep your precious skin out of harm’s way, just remember the golden rule – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.
Slip into clothing like a lightweight cotton shirt; also you can find clothing with an SPF rating. Kids rash suits are fun, colourful and protect small sensitive bodies from sunburn.
Slop on a strong broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that is at least SPF30 and keep applying your sunscreen throughout the day, particularly if you go for a swim.
Slap on a hat, preferably wide-brimmed or with flaps to protect your face, neck and ears, as these are the places where bad sunburn is most common.
Wrap on a good pair of sunglasses that fit you well and protect the sides of your face as well as your eyes.
What is good sunscreen?
SPF is the sun protection factor that tells you how much UVR is filtered out by a sunscreen; the higher the number, the more UV radiation is filtered out and the more your skin is protected. An SPF 30+ sunscreen is recommended by the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Also use a broad-spectrum suncreen that will filter out both UVA and UVB.
Using a good sunscreen doesn’t mean you should use less or stay in the sun longer, so you still need to be sunsmart about avoiding the sun in other ways. Also be aware that levels of UVB are highest around noon, whereas UVA remains constant throughout the day.
Skin cancer facts
Is skin ‘colour-blindness’ becoming a problem?
Skin colour can be divided into six categories that predict how skin will react to UVR.
The most UV vulnerable category is very pale skin and if you have this phototype, as it is called, you will always burn in the sun and never tan. Then there are gradations of skin colour up to very dark skin that never burns.
Results of University of Otago research suggests that we are “kidding” ourselves by overestimating the darkness of our natural, non-tanned skin and this “dark shift” bias may be clouding our judgment of the length of time we can safely spend in the sun without burning.
In the study, more than 77% of those asked believed they had medium skin colour, whereas using an instrument called a ‘spectrophotometer’ it was found they had fair skin, and this pattern applied to all skin colours.
The researchers believe this bias may affect our behaviour in the sun and how well skin cancer risk messages are heeded.
What a pity that summer brings out all those pesky insects, but they’re all part of the package and it doesn’t take too much effort to keep them at bay and protect yourself from bites.
Mosquitoes are annoying and can also be a health hazard. Several species of mosquito call New Zealand home, including some imported exotic species that are carriers of disease-causing viruses.
Sandflies are another summer pest found near flowing water and in bush. They were even mentioned by James Cook in his journal, stating that “the most mischievous animal here is the small black sandfly which are exceeding(ly) numerous”.
Tips for preventing mosquito bites
How to ease the pain and itch of an insect bite:
Ensure water safety
Water activities like swimming, boating, fishing and surfing are always a large part of summer fun, but every year water tragedies cloud what should be such a happy family time. So make sure this does not happen to your family.
More sunshine and daylight means more outdoor eating, but remember that in warmer weather you need to be more careful with food as bacteria grow faster in warmer weather. When you plan your first BBQ of the season you will need to take some time preparing as it may have been sitting idle all winter and you don’t know what will be growing or living in it.
Tips for BBQ food safety
Cold A cold is a viral infection that affects your nose, sinuses, throat and upper chest. It usually goes away by itself in 7 to 10 days. The symptom..
Ok, so yes, you might feel like you’ve had some Americanised mass market thing foisted upon you, your family and your neighbourhood. Granted that is..