Sunny weekend causes health calls

SUN lovers are being urged to take precautions after dozens of people called the West Sussex out of hours GP service for skin-related conditions last weekend.

Temperatures on Saturday and Sunday peaked in the early 20 degrees, and many people weren’t prepared or simply didn’t protect themselves against the sun, according to health professionals.

Harmoni, the West Sussex Out of Hours service, received more than 890 calls on Saturday April 16 and from those calls, more people called about sunburn and skin-related problems than any other condition.

Judith Wright, director of public health at NHS West Sussex, said: “It is concerning that this early in the year people are calling for NHS help for sunburn and similar conditions.

“Everyone loves good weather, and it’s fantastic to be outdoors, especially after a long, cold winter, but people need to realise that the sun can be powerful no matter what time of year it is and what the weather conditions are. You can still burn through cloud, and a spring breeze can make the sun feel cooler than it actually is.”

According to new figures from Cancer Research UK, more than two people under 35 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer – in Britain every day.

In the late 1970s, there were around 290 cases of melanoma among 15 to 34 year olds.

Now more than 900 young Britons are being diagnosed with the disease each year.

Judith continued: “Sunburn is the leading cause of skin cancer, and there is absolutely no point in getting burnt.

“All too often people think that burning is part of the process of getting a tan, or showing that they have had a good day in the sun.

“But it really is dangerous and I’d urge everyone to take simple steps to protect their skin from serious damage.

“With two bank holidays approaching and good weather predicted for both we know that people from across West Sussex will want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, but I would encourage everyone to do it safely – use sunscreen with a factor of 30 or higher, spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses, particularly take extra care of children’s skin and make sure they are protected, and make sure you and your family never burn.

Read more about Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart 2011 campaign - http://www.sunsmart.org.uk/