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Dermatologist: "It's sad to see people grilling their skin"

To the joy of many in Finland, this summer has been one of the sunniest and hottest on record, but a skin care expert warns there is no safe way to get a tan.

Aurinkovoidetta levitetään käsivarrelle.
The use of a minimum SPF 50 sunblock is recommended during peak UV-ray hours in the afternoon. Image: Tero Kyllönen / Yle

There is no safe form of tanning, and children in particular should stay out of the blazing sun, according to dermatologist Ville Kiiski, who works at the privately-run skin clinic Ihosairaala and health care firm Aava.

"In the short term there is the risk of getting sunburned, in the long term it can be a question of skin cancer," Kiiski said.

"It's sad to see how people are grilling their skin," Kiiski said, pointing out the difference between enjoying the warm weather while it lasts and trying to get a tan.

"Generally, one sunburn is too many; if the skin becomes reddened by the sun, it's been damaged," he said.

Even a mild sunburn can cause genetic changes to the skin and raises a person's long-term chances of getting melanoma, more commonly known as skin cancer.

Use SPF 50 or higher

Due to children's thin skin - which can be damaged by UV rays - it is particularly important to protect them from the sun's rays.

Kiiski said that young children should not be in the sun during peak hours of UV radiation. Youngsters and adults alike should avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 11.00am - 4.00pm.

If people do find themselves in the sun, Kiiski recommended that people should shield themselves with clothes and sunblock that has at least a sun protection factor of 50.

Higher risk of cancer

The average melanoma patient is about 60 years old and has been exposed to a significant amount of UV rays over the years, according to Kiiski.

The use of tanning beds, also known as solariums has also been linked to increases in skin cancer.

In light of the dangers of the sun, Kiiski said he is relieved to see that younger people are not as enamoured of sun-bronzed skin as his older patients have been.

"There are those who've been grilling themselves since the 70s and have not been able to kick the habit, and they are of course at a higher risk for skin cancer," he said.

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