Make Sure You Don’t Burn This Summer!

Closeup of lovely young woman applying sunscreen lotion on body

Whether you’re soaking up the sun in your own back garden or somewhere a little more exotic, it’s important to keep your skin safe so you can enjoy the sunny season to the full. This summer, Boots UK is encouraging British sun seekers to “have each other’s backs”, helping them and their friends to work together to keep safe when it comes to sun protection and checking for signs of melanoma.

If you’ve ever found yourself in the frustrating position of not being able to reach that pesky middle area of your back when applying sun cream, you’re not alone. The back has been identified as the most difficult area to reach on the body, with research from Boots UK revealing over half (53%) of British sun seekers have ended up with painful sunburn after not being able to protect their backs properly.

Despite feeling themselves burning, one in ten do nothing to protect their backs and a quarter of people feel too embarrassed to ask someone else to help them apply. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that the back is one of most common sites for malignant melanomas, one of the most serious forms of skin cancer. With 80% of us having never checked our backs for signs of melanoma, this summer Boots UK is on hand to help you stay protected so you can make the most of the warmer weather.

To raise awareness of how to protect and check your back, Books UK Sun Care Scientific Advisor Clare O’Connor and Pharmacist Natalie Masters have teamed up with Donna Smart, Lead Dermatology Nurse, at ScreenCancer UK to provide simple hints and tips.

Clare O’Connor suggests buddying up with a friend or partner to have each other’s backs and ensure those difficult places to reach are properly covered. “We’ve all been in that annoying situation when we’re enjoying the sun and want to make sure our skin is protected but can’t reach that middle area of the back. My simple 4-step ‘B-A-C-K’ guide will help you and your buddy to have each other’s backs and ensure you’re protecting yourselves properly when exposed to the sun”.

B = BEST (FOR YOU): “If you have fair skin, you should be wearing a minimum of SPF 30 and SPF 50+ in hotter climates. If you have darker skin, use a minimum of SPF 15 in the UK, increasing to 30 in southern Europe and 50+ if you’re closer to the equator. Don’t forget UVA protection – Boots Soltan is the UK’s only leading sun care brand that offers 5* protection for the whole family, preventing up to 100% of UVA from permanently damaging skin.”

A = AMOUNT: “Know how much cream you need to apply. We need at least two teaspoons of product to cover our backs”.

C = COVER EVENLY. “People with a high number of moles can potentially be more at risk of skin cancer. Always protect your skin from burning with a high factor sunscreen with five-star UVA protection.”

K = KEEP REAPPLYING: “Your chosen sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours and always after swimming. Don’t forget, even lying on your back can cause your sun cream to rub off, so keep reapplying”.

BACK Guide

Ensuring thorough application of sun cream is an important aspect of looking after your skin. However, it shouldn’t stop here. It is equally important to check your skin for any changes and to help your friends and family to regularly check their skin as well.

Not only does Boots UK have a diverse sun care product offering to help customers protect their skin, since 2016 it has been helping customers to check their skin by providing a Mole Scanning Service in selected Boots stores in conjunction with ScreenCancer UK.

Natalie Masters, Boots UK Pharmacist comments; “From an early age we are made aware of the importance of using sun cream to protect our skin. Less spoken about, however, are the benefits of regularly checking your skin for suspicious looking moles or lesions. Make sure you frequently perform checks and don’t forget to ask a friend or partner to check those hard to reach places such as the back. If anything looks at all unusual, don’t hesitate to visit your GP or book in a scan at your nearest Boots store offering the service.”

Donna Smart, Lead Dermatology Nurse at ScreenCancer UK has shared a handy ABCDE guide to help people to properly check moles or lesions on their skin. The easy to remember acronym gives tips on what to look out for:

  • Asymmetry: Normally, if you were to draw an invisible line through the centre of a normal mole, both halves should usually look the same or symmetrical.
  • Borders: Watch out for unclear, irregular or ragged borders against normal skin.
  • Colour: Keep an eye out for any changes in colour, especially black, blue or uneven colours.
  • Diameter: A melanoma is usually more than 5-6mm in diameter, about the size of a pea. Look out for any changes in size.
  • Evolving: Be aware of any changes in size, colour, crustiness, itching or bleeding of existing moles/lesions or if a new mole/lesion appears. Taking a photo every time you check yourself or your buddy will help you to monitor any changes.

For advice on how to protect your skin, pop into your local Boots store to speak to a member of our pharmacy team. Click here to book a mole scan at your nearest Boots store.

Specially trained Boots Pharmacy Advisors and Pharmacists in selected stores are trained to conduct in-store mole scans using a scanner which captures images of five components of the skin across different layers. By sending the images for expert analysis at ScreenCancer UK, it is established whether the mole or pigmented lesion is at risk and if so, a Dermatology Specialist will contact the customer to discuss next steps.

Available in selected stores. Visit Boots to find your nearest store running the service. Subject to eligibility criteria and availability. Charges apply.

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!