The scalp is often overlooked when it comes to protecting our bodies from the sun’s harmful UV rays. However, as with other parts of the body, it needs to be protected during the summer and on sunnier days.
With that in mind, we’re going to highlight how important it is to protect both your scalp and hairline, before suggesting the best ways you can do so.
What’s the link between sunburn and skin cancer?
Sunburn is damage to your skin caused by UV rays from the sun or a sunbed. In the UK, 8 out of 10 people with melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer – could have avoided having the condition if they’d protected themselves from harmful UV rays and not got sunburnt.
Getting sunburnt once every two years can triple your risk of having melanoma, so applying sun cream with the right level of protection is vital. You should wear sun cream of factor 15 or more and at least a four-star UVA protection rating, reapplying every two hours. Children should wear factor 50+.
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Why do I need to take extra care with my scalp?
A 2008 study of over 50,000 people with melanoma found that people with scalp or neck melanomas die at nearly twice the rate of people with melanoma elsewhere on the body.
Experts believe that this is because the melanoma is often spotted later, so the cancer has had longer to develop, or because the conditions on the scalp allow the melanoma to spread because it’s rich in blood vessels and lymphatics.
Add sun cream application to your morning routine or wear a hat
You need to protect your whole body, including your hairline and scalp, every day, not just on sunny days, so make sure you include the application of sun cream in your morning routine and remember to keep reapplying it during the day.
Ideally, you should wear a hat or scarf to cover your head when outside, which might not always be practical, but try your best. If you’re going for a jog, wear a baseball cap, or if you’re going to be lounging by the pool on holiday, either a trilby or a bucket hat will work well – whatever type of hat suits your look! Some hats even come with a UV rating.
If you can, choose a protective hairstyle, such as a ponytail or bun. If you decide, however, to have a parted hairstyle, such as a braid or bunches, make sure you apply sun cream to your part line. You should also make sure that you apply sun cream to your ears and neck which are other areas that are easily missed.
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Shampoos and conditioners with UV filters
You can protect your hair by using shampoo and conditioner that contains a UV filter and by applying an after-sun hair mask. These products should also help prevent your hair from drying out and will reduce colour damage.
It’s a good idea to try and get into the habit of getting a friend or loved one to comb through your hair, looking for any unusual spots on your scalp. If they find any, you’ll need to make an appointment with your GP so you can get checked out.
Read more about the benefits of sunshine and how to stay safe
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