How to stay safe in the sun

In the past 30 years, cases of skin cancer have risen faster than any other cancer in the UK.

Skin cancer is the second most common cancer among young adults (aged 15-34) in the UK and getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of skin cancer. More than two young adults (aged 15-34) are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the UK.

The damage done to your skin when you’re young could lead to skin cancer developing in later life, so it’s vital to get clued up now and protect yourself from the sun.

Protect yourself from the sun by following our five simple steps:

  1. Slap on SPF 30 sunscreen – Apply generous amounts of water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30, to clean, dry skin before going out in the sun. Make sure you re-apply regularly throughout the day.
  2. Wear a hat – Whatever the style lots of hats can help to keep the heat off your head, face, neck and ears.
  3. Stay in the shade between 11am-3pm – The sun’s rays are strongest at this time so find a shady spot to avoid the burn.
  4. Protect your eyes – Wearing sunglasses can help to make sure your eyes are protected from the strong rays of the sun.
  5. Cover up – Throw on a long sleeved shirt or top that ideally has a collar and a sarong or long shorts to protect your skin.
  6. Worried about skin cancer? Find out more.  

How to choose a good suncream

Suncream doesn’t need to be expensive. Thanks to consumer watchdog Which? we now know which suncreams have passed their vigorous testing. We know that some suncreams that cost as little as £2.50 have effective UVA and UVB protection. Find out more about which suncreams are effective.

What should I be looking for in suncream?

  • Suncream can go out of date. Make sure you check the date on the bottle or look for a small pot with an open lid icon with a number inside that should indicate how long the product is in date for. Eg. 12M = 12 months.
  • If you’re planning on going swimming or being in water make sure the suncream you’re using is water resistant. If it isn’t you should cover up when it in the water and you’ll need to reapply the cream when you come out 
  • You should reapply suncream every two hours, whether you’ve been in water or not
  • You should always use a suncream that’s SPF30 or above
  • It must have UVA protection

How to spot skin cancer

Signs of skin cancer can be any changes to your skin, such as:

  • a new growth or sore that won’t heal
  • a spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts
  • a mole or growth that bleeds, is crusty or forms a scab

It’s important to check your moles regularly, especially if any of the following things happen:

  • they get bigger
  • they change shape
  • they have a blurred, rough or jagged outline
  • they get darker or turn red
  • they are made up of more than one colour
  • they become itchy, painful or crusty
  • they start to bleed
  • their appearance changes in any way

One way to keep on top of any changes is to make a note of any freckles, moles, birthmarks, bumps, sores, scabs or scaly patches that you have. Set a reminder in your phone every month to check the ones you have listed, write down any changes and make a note of any new ones that appear.

If you notice any changes from the list above you should always speak to a healthcare professional and have them take a look as well.