This is the last in our series of posts on travelling following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. This week we're looking at suncare.
Many of us like to spend time outside when we have a sunny day in the UK or when we’re on holiday somewhere warmer. A small amount of sunlight on our skin each day is also good for our vitamin D levels. It’s important for everyone to take care to enjoy the sun safely, as it can cause sunburn and longer-term damage to the skin. It’s especially important during or after cancer treatment because of the effects treatment can have on your skin increasing your sun sensitivity. In this post, we’ll be looking at some of the ways you can protect yourself with a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen.
We posted recently (healthunlocked.com/ovacome/...) about skin sensitivity as an effect of chemotherapy. This means that sunny weather is more likely to cause dry skin and sunburn. Radiotherapy, targeted therapies and surgery can also make your skin more sensitive. Your team will be able to tell you whether your treatment can cause sensitivity and any other effects.
The most effective way to protect yourself from the sun is to stay indoors or in the shade. Avoid spending time in direct sunlight, particularly during the hottest part of the day, and at other times as well as far as you can
The sun tends to be strongest between 11am and 3pm, so it’s best to avoid spending time in direct sunlight during those hours. A good starting point is to follow the ‘shadow rule.’ If when you stand in the sun your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun is at its strongest and it’s most important to make sure you’re protected. This doesn’t mean that you only need to take precautions at these times of day, but it’s a helpful guide.
For more detailed information on your day to day risk, you can check the ultraviolet (‘UV’) index on the weather forecast. In the UK, this is available on the Met Office website at metoffice.gov.uk/public/wea....
Sunburn can happen even when the sun isn’t very strong and on cloudy days, so when you’re outside it’s still important to take precautions. Covering up with clothes like long-sleeved tops and a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, ears and neck will help to reduce your exposure to the sun. Clothes that don’t let the light through (you can hold them up to check this) will protect you better than something sheer.
To avoid getting too hot, choose natural fibres like cotton and bamboo in paler colours and loose-fitting styles. Sunglasses that filter ultra violet (‘UV’) rays (a ‘CE’ mark, British Standard or marked UV 400 or 100% UV protection) will help to protect your eyes, especially if they include protection at the side.
When you’re out in the sun, you can protect any areas that aren’t covered or shaded with a good-quality sunscreen with a sun protection factor (‘SPF’) of at least 30 and a four or five star rating (or the letters ‘UVA’ with a circle round them). It won’t completely protect you and you shouldn’t use it as a way to spend more time in the sun, but used correctly it reduces the risk of sunburn and skin damage. Apply it before going outside and reapply every two hours during the day, especially after swimming, if you’re sweating or if it could have rubbed off such as when drying yourself with a towel. Don’t keep sunscreen where it can get hot, as heat can stop it from working. Look at the use by date on the bottle and, if it’s already been opened, look at the number next to the letter ‘M,’ which tells you how many months it stays effective for once the bottle is open. If it’s past its date or if it’s been open for longer than its protection lasts, you will replace it.
If you have any tips on suncare that other members might find helpful, please share them in the comments below.
Here are some useful websites if you would like to read more about this:
If you have any questions about suncare, please do get in touch with us.
Julia (Support Services Officer)