Advice from SunSmart, UK’s national skin cancer prevention campaign.
Damaged DNA can cause cells to start growing out of control; this can lead to skin cancer. Getting painful sunburn, just once every two years, can triple the risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
Your body’s attempt to repair this damage is what causes the painful symptoms of sunburn.
So it is important to avoid burning by protecting yourself from the sun. People at most risk have fair skin, lots of moles or freckles or a family history of skin cancer.
Check the UV Index
Most skin cancers are caused by damage from UV rays in sunlight. These cancers could be prevented if we protect ourselves from the sun.
The strength of UV rays outdoors varies from day to day and according to the time of year. The sun’s UV rays are strongest in the hours around midday. This is why it is best to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm, if you can.
The UV index is a measure of the sun’s strength, developed to help you know when you need to be careful outside. It is used in weather forecasts and reports. You can check the five day UV index forecast for different parts of the UK and Europe on the Met Office website.
Remember the SunSmart code:
- Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
- Make sure you never burn
- Aim to cover up with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses
- Remember to take extra care with children
- Yse factor 15+ (or above) sunscreen
You should report any mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to your doctor.
Go to the SunSmart website to find out more;
- Stay safe – find out how to protect yourself
- Know your risk of skin cancer
- Know your risk of sunburn
- Find out what skin type you are
- Learn about the UV (ultraviolet) Index
For further information
The SunSmart campaign is run by Cancer Research UK
NHS Direct has advice about treating sunburn
Health and safety at work guidance about sun protection for outdoor workers is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You can download information leaflets for employers and employees