As we approach the Bank Holiday weekend, the NHS in Lincolnshire is reminding people to be careful in the sun, since sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer and does not just happen on holiday, you can burn in the UK, even when it’s cloudy.
Ideally you should spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.
Do not rely on sunscreen alone to protect yourself from the sun. Wear suitable clothing and spend time in the shade when the sun is at its hottest. When buying sunscreen, the label should have:
- a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB
- at least 4-star UVA protection
Most people do not apply enough sunscreen and as a guide, adults should aim to apply around two teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re just covering your head, arms and neck and two tablespoons if you’re covering your entire body while wearing a swimming costume
Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears, and head if you have thinning or no hair, but a wide-brimmed hat is better.
You should take extra care to protect babies and children. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life.
Children aged under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.
From March to October in the UK, children should:
- cover up with suitable clothing
- spend time in the shade, particularly from 11am to 3pm
- wear at least SPF30 sunscreen
You should apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.
If you do get sunburn then sponge sore skin with cool water, then apply soothing after sun cream or spray, like aloe vera. Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, will ease the pain by helping to reduce inflammation caused by sunburn. You should stay out of the sun until all signs of redness have gone.
People who spend a lot of time in the sun, whether it’s for work or play, are at increased risk of skin cancer if they do not take the right precautions. If you have lots of moles or freckles, your risk of getting skin cancer is higher than average, so take extra care.
Keep an eye out for changes to your skin which include a new mole, growth or lump or any moles, freckles or patches of skin that change in size, shape or colour. Report these to your GP Practice as soon as possible. Skin cancer is much easier to treat if it’s found early.
Avoid getting caught out by sunburn. Use shade, clothing and a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect yourself.