With May 2021 being one of the wettest on record and April one of the coldest, it may seem odd to be warning about the risks of sun exposure this summer. Yet, with all of us being encouraged to be outside more in the coming months, and dermatologists increasingly worried about people ignoring potential warning signs of skin cancer, it is nevertheless important to take care in the sun in the coming months.
For many of us, the fact last summer was a scorcher went some way to mitigating the anxieties and uncertainties of suddenly having to deal with a pandemic, being locked down and working from home.
This year, of course, we’ve all become much more used to the idea of lockdowns and restrictions, social distancing, mask wearing, the importance of ventilation and being out and about in the great outdoors. The weather, however, hasn’t ‘played ball’ in the same way it did last year, with April 2021– while extremely dry and sunny – being the coldest since 1922 and May 2021 being one of the wettest on record.
With June 2021 (so far) looking much more settled and 'normal' for a British summer, the weather, hopefully, is beginning to change.
Yet, while the temptation may be to rush outside to the park or garden to sunbathe, whether from your home office or during your lunchbreak if you’ve now physically returned to an office, it is still worth taking care. In fact, precisely because the weather has been so grim up to now and our skin has not been used to being out in the sun, it is even more important to be playing it 'sun safe'.
On top of this, a ‘British summer’ may not mean full sunshine anyway. If you’re not careful, it is still perfectly possible to get burnt on hazy, breezy or even overcast summer days – and in fact they are precisely the sorts of days when you are less likely to be careful.
This decline therefore could be storing up problems for the future. It is also part of a wider pandemic-related backlog in cancer diagnoses and treatments generally, fuelled by reduced access to GP services, cancelled elective surgery but also by people either being afraid to get checked out because of worries about catching Covid-19 or not wanting to ‘bother’ the hard-pressed NHS.
Yet, at the same time, let’s not forget about the importance of ‘sun safe’ messages this summer. This needs to include being alert to changes in our skin, especially changes to any moles or freckles that could be a sign of more serious health issues and which therefore should be checked out by the GP.