Staying safe in the sun on holiday

Whether you are travelling within the UK or heading to a warmer climate for your holiday, it's important to stay safe in the sun, protect your skin from the risk of sunburn and avoid heat exhaustion.

We've put together some tips to help you protect your skin from the sun and avoid the risk of skin cancer. (These tips are based on information from NHS Choices and the British Association of Dermatologists.

For more information about avoiding heat exhaustion read our article: Dealing with extreme heat.

There's no need to avoid the sun all year round, but taking a few steps when you are out in the sun on holiday, or in the summer months in the UK, will help protect you from sunburn and the risk of developing skin cancer. Remember to take particular care of children and babies when you are out in the summer sun, as their skin is more easily damaged than adult skin.

  • Protect your skin with clothing, including a hat, T shirt and UV protective sunglasses
  • Avoid the sun and stay in the shade when the sun is at it's strongest, between 11am and 3pm. This is good time to have a long lunch inside, or under the shade of an umbrella.
  • Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 (SPF 50 for children or people with pale skin). Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen which protects against UVA and UVB rays and make sure that it is not past it's use by date. UVB protection is measured by the SPF, UVA protection is measured with a star rating. The more stars, the higher the protection.
  • Reapply your sun screen after going in the sea or a swimming pool. Even sun screens which claim to be water proof should be reapplied after you have been in water.
  • Take extra care if you have lots of moles or freckles as this may mean that you are more at risk of developing skin cancer. Keep an eye out for changes in your skin and consult your doctor of you are worried about anything. Skin cancer is much easier to treat if it is discovered early.
  • Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight. Young skin is delicate and more easily damaged by the sun. Apply a good broad spectrum sun screen to all exposed skin, choose a child friendly one if possible as it is less likely to irritate skin.
  • Sunscreens should not be used as an alternative to clothing and shade, rather they offer additional protection. No sunscreen will provide 100% protection.

If you do get sun burnt sponge the skin with cool water and then apply a soothing after sun or calamine lotion. If you feel unwell or your skin swells or blisters badly you should seek medical attention. Stay out of the sun until the redness has gone.