Keep it Covered

19th June 17

Divers urged to Cover Up in NHS skin cancer campaign

BSAC is supporting this year’s NHS skin cancer campaign, Cover Up, to encourage divers to remember sun protection as part of their dive preparation.

Melanoma skin cancer is the sixth most common cancer amongst men in the UK and there is evidence that people who work and play outdoors are at a higher risk. BSAC has now partnered with the NHS and its Cover Up campaign to advise divers about the risks of skin cancer and the simple steps you can take to protect yourself.

After a winter spent under layers of clothing, our skin’s tolerance at the start of the dive season to the effects of the sun can be low. Coupled with the reflective glare off the sea’s surface and the fact that UV rates are higher in the core diving season – May to September – means that many divers can be caught unawares when out on the dive boat.

Scuba diver and NHS England Wessex Medical Director Liz Mearns advises divers to be sun aware while out on the water. “For anyone spending time having fun messing about on boats it is all too easy to get burned without even noticing it – particularly if there is a breeze.

“Many people also don’t realise that they can get burned by the sun’s rays reflecting off the water and even on cloudy days. Put simply, Cover Up with hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself and your family.”

Top sun safe tips for divers include:

  • Use at least factor 15 sunscreen in the sun and use plenty of it

  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin – don’t forget your neck and ears and your head if you have thinning or no hair

  • Wear sunglasses and a hat or your dive hood

  • Take particular care if you have fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair, or light-coloured eyes.

See your GP if you have any skin abnormality, such as a lump, ulcer, lesion or skin discolouration that hasn't healed after four weeks. While it's unlikely to be skin cancer, it's best to be sure.

Official NHS advice on sun safety can be found on the NHS Choices website.

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