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Preventing Sunburn & the Heatwave of 2018

Preventing sunburn

Protect your skin from strong sunlight by covering up with suitable clothing, finding shade, and applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside. In the UK, the risk of getting sunburn is highest from March to October, particularly from 11am to 3pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest. You can also burn in cloudy and cool conditions, and from sunlight reflecting off snow. So if you are taking part in Winter Sports consider using a Face & Lip protector such as the…

Suitable clothing

When out in the sun for long periods, you should wear:

  • a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears
  • a long-sleeved top
  • trousers or long skirts made from close-weave fabrics that don’t allow sunlight through
  • sunglasses with wraparound lenses or wide arms with the CE Mark and European Standard EN 1836:2005


When buying sunscreen, make sure it’s suitable for your skin and blocks both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation such as the Care Plus Outdoor & Sea Sun Cream this protects….

The sunscreen label should have:

  • the letters “UVA” in a circular logo and at least 4-star UVA protection
  • a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB

Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. Around 35ml (6-8 teaspoons) of sun lotion is needed to cover the body of an average-sized adult and achieve the stated SPF.

Watch this video about how to apply sunscreen.

If sunscreen is applied too thinly, it provides less protection. If you’re worried you might not be applying enough SPF15, you could use a stronger SPF30 sunscreen.

If you plan to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, sunscreen needs to be applied twice:

  • 30 minutes before going out
  • just before you go out

Apply it to all areas of exposed skin, including your face, neck and ears. Also apply it to your head if you have thinning or no hair, but wearing a wide-brimmed hat is better.

The length of time it takes for skin to go red or burn varies from person to person. The Cancer Research UK website has a handy tool where you can find out your skin type to see when you might be at risk of burning.

You need to use water-resistant sunscreen if you’re exercising and sweating or in contact with water.

Apply sunscreen liberally, frequently and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This includes straight after you’ve been in water (even if it’s “water-resistant”) and after towel drying, sweating, or when it may have rubbed off.

Advice for babies and children

Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight.

During warm, sunny weather in the UK, children of all ages should:

  • cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long trousers or skirts
  • wear a wide-brimmed hat that covers the face, neck and ears
  • wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays
  • use sunscreen (at least SPF20) and reapply it regularly throughout the day
  • spend time in the shade, such as under a tree or umbrella, or in a sun tent (particularly during the middle of the day)

What to do if you’re sunburnt

If you or your child has sunburn, you should get out of the sun as soon as possible – head indoors or into a shady area.
You can usually treat mild sunburn at home, although there are some circumstances where you should get medical advice.
To help relieve your symptoms until your skin heals:
– cool you skin by having a cold bath or shower, sponging it with cold water, or holding a cold flannel to it
– use lotions containing aloe vera to soothe and moisturise your skin or aftersun cream such as the…
– drink plenty of fluids to cool you down and prevent dehydration
– take painkillers, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, to relieve pain (but don’t give aspirin to children under 16)
Try to avoid all sunlight, including through windows, by covering up the affected areas of skin until it’s fully healed.

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