Skin cancer is one of the UK’s most common cancers – and the number of cases is increasing each year.
Exposure to the damaging ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun can result in permanent skin damage and skin cancer.
Even cloudy days can let enough UV rays through to cause damage.
There are two types of UV radiation:
NICE guidelines released in February 2016 warn that there is no safe way to suntan. The guidelines also acknowledge that sunlight does have important benefits:
But it’s essential to limit your exposure, and protect yourself from the sunlight's damaging effects.
Do as the Aussies do:
SLIP on a shirt! SLOP on sunscreen! SLAP on a hat!
It's important to stay covered up in the sun.
And don't forget: this doesn't just apply to your 2-week summer holiday, but all year round. (Even in the great British summer!)
As well as Slip! Slop! Slap! you should Seek shade and Slide on a pair of sunglasses.
So: Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide!
Simple to remember, and a gift to your skin.
Loose-weave fabric can be less protective than you might think – so take care with beachwear.
Your body needs sunlight in order to produce the vitamin D that keeps your bones healthy.
So you need to expose your skin to sunlight - without sunscreen - for a few brief minutes a day, some time between 11am and 3pm.
10-15 minutes is long enough for most lighter-skinned people. People with darker skins may need a little longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
Uncovering your legs or arms is enough for making all the vitamin D you need.
NEVER let your skin redden or burn, and be sure to slap on sunscreen for the rest of your time in the sun.
If you are someone who gets little or no sun exposure, you may find vitamin D supplements beneficial.
It takes 50% less time for your body to produce a given amount of Vitamin D at midday than 2 hours before or after.
You should sunbathe for a maximum of 30 minutes on the first day of your holiday, and extend this by only 5 or 10 minutes a day.
As soon as your skin feels uncomfortably hot, it's time to cover up and seek shade. If your skin reddens, it means you've already had too much exposure.
Don't forget! If there's a cool breeze, your skin may burn before it feels hot.
UV rays are reflected off snow, water and sand, so even when you're sitting in the shade you may get burned from the reflected sunlight.
Sunscreen takes time to work, so apply it half an hour before going out in the sun.
Make sure it’s a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation, and is at least SPF 15. Better still, SPF30.
Apply sunscreen generously - very few of us use enough to give the level of protection stated on the label.
Slather it on, and keep topping it up, at least every 2 hours. Even if you haven't taken a dip in the water.
And pay special attention to your children’s skin, keeping their arms and legs covered as much as possible.
The World Health Organisation recommends using one tube of sunscreen per three whole-body applications.
Sunbeds are as damaging as sunlight –and their radiation penetrates even more deeply into the skin.
Young people are at greatest risk - it is illegal for anyone under 18 to use sunbeds.
Current advice is to avoid sunbeds altogether if you have fair hair or fair skin; if you have moles; or if you sunburn easily.