The sun makes us feel happy and relaxed, improves our mood and provides essential vitamins to help keep our bodies healthy. However, over-exposure to harmful sunrays, especially when we are young, can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
There are a number of ways you can prevent sunburn and stay safe while you are out in the sun. For example, you should:
- use sunscreen that has a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 (use a higher SPF for fair and sensitive skin), and reapply it frequently (see below for more information)
- Seek the shade
- Cover up
- Know your skin
- Drink water
- Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight
Use sunscreen that has a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 (use a higher SPF for fair and sensitive skin), and reapply it frequently.
- Apply sunscreen to clean, dry skin.
- Use around two teaspoons of sun cream to cover your head, arms and neck.
- Use at least two tablespoons of sun cream to cover all your exposed skin, if you're wearing a swimsuit.
- Re-apply sunscreen regularly (at least every two hours) as it can come off through washing, rubbing or sweating.
- Re-apply sunscreen after going in the water, even if it's labelled waterproof.
- Remember, sunscreen protection is not just for holidays, you can burn even on a cloudy day or when enjoying the snow. Relying on sun creams to prolong time spent in the sun can increase your overall exposure to the sun and the risk of skin cancer.
Seek the shade
Avoid the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm by spending time in the shade under umbrellas, trees and canopies or indoors.
Seek the shade and always limit the length of time spent in the sun. If working outdoors or playing sport, remember your skin needs protection and always wear a hat.
Encourage activities and play in shaded areas if possible. Choose the shady part of the garden or park during the hottest part of the day.
- Wear loose fitting clothing made from tightly woven natural fibres to protect the skin from the sun’s rays.
- Cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, trousers and wide-brimmed hat to shade the face.
- Wear good-quality, wrapped around sunglasses that are British standard approved to protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays
- If your hair is thinning or closely cropped in style, be sure to project your scalp, ears and neck.
Know your skin
Take extra care in the sun if you have pale skin, moles, freckles or red/fair hair and pale eyes.
Be careful if you have previously suffered from severe sunburn, have a history of skin cancer (melanoma) or had a previous skin condition or melanoma.
Check your skin regularly and be aware if an existing mole is getting larger or changing shape, or a new one is growing. If a mole, skin bump or sore area is inflamed or is bleeding, oozing, has a change in sensation or becomes itchy or painful, always seek medical advice without delay.
Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses or more of water a day, especially in hot weather.
Water helps you to stay fit and refreshed, have healthier skin, fresher breath and better concentration.
Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, depression, dry skin, constipation and kidney problems.
Water from the tap is inexpensive and good for you. Try chilling a bottle of tap water in the fridge, it tastes good and is always ready for use. When holidaying abroad, drink bottled water. Drink more, don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight
Protect young children as their skin is delicate and should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Keep babies of all skin colours out of the sun completely as sunburn can lead to skin cancer later in life.
Teach older children to apply and regularly reapply sunscreen properly.
Dress young children in protective clothing and encourage them to wear a hat as this will shield the head, face, ears and neck.
Don’t forget sun protection even on cloudy days as sunburn can still occur. Never let children get sunburnt and choose sunscreens that are formulated for children and babies as these are less likely to irritate their skin.
Watch a video on how to keep skin safe in the summer sun.
Visit NHS Choices for more healthy holiday tips and information, which includes:
- Barbeque food safety
- Festival survival guides
- Travel insurance
- Travelling when pregnant
- Keeping safe outdoors
- Free family activities
- Summer safety for young children
- Walk routes
- Camping safety
- Clean beaches