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Be safe in the sun this Summer

Enjoying the sunshine

Getting the sun on your bare skin guarantees an intake of vitamin D, vital in helping the body absorb calcium for strong bones and teeth. However, If you're likely to be spending time outdoors this summer, either working or relaxing, remember to look after your skin. We’ve put together a short guide with tips on how to stay safe in the sunshine:

According to the British Skin Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, and rates continue to rise. At least 100,000 new cases are now diagnosed each year, and the disease kills over 2,500 people each year in the UK - that's seven people every day.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause damage to the skin and lead to skin cancer. In fact, UV exposure is the main preventable cause of skin cancer. Experiencing severe sunburn increases the risk of developing skin cancer in later life, so it's very important to protect yourself from the sun. 

How can I protect myself in the sun?

Here are the lines of defence to protect against the sun. Use them all to stay safe:

Clothing and a hat

  • Clothing should always be your first line of defence against damage from the sun
  • Cover as much of the skin as is possible, paying special attention to the shoulders which burn easily
  • Consider t-shirts and hats even when in the water, especially if you burn easily
  • A 'legionnaire' style hat with a wide brim is best, as it will shade the head, face, ears and neck. Baseball caps do not shade the ears or neck, and so are not as effective


UV radiation can also damage the eyes, and so sunglasses with good quality lenses that filter out the UV are essential. 

When buying sunglasses, you should look for the EU CE Mark and a sticker that says UV400, which will ensure that harmful UVA and UVB rays are filtered out. Styles that wrap around, and so don’t allow sun in at the sides are better.

Watch our oculoplastic webinar with Consultant Oculoplastic Surgeon, Miss Elizabeth Hawkes, to find out how to protect the delicate eye area from the sun.

SPF 30+ Sunscreen

  • No sunscreen provides absolute protection, so it should be used with the other lines of defence, and not alone
  • Generously apply sunscreen with SPF30 or more to all areas of skin exposed to the sun. A waterproof sunscreen is better, even if you are not swimming, as it protects you better if you sweat
  • Apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside, and at least every two hours. If you swim or sweat a lot, use it more often. Remember using a towel or lying back on a fabric sunbed can rub the sunscreen off
  • SPF stands for 'Sun Protection Factor' and refers to the level of protection against UVB radiation, linked to skin cancer. Look for a four or ideally 5-star UVA rating on the bottle, which will help protect from UVA radiation associated with skin ageing
  • Check the expiry date of your sunscreen, as out-of-date sunscreen will not be as effective and you risk burning
  • Don't forget to protect your lips - using an SPF30+ lip balm


Keeping cool in the shade is a good way of protecting yourself from the sun, especially if you are very fair skinned. Just 10 minutes of strong sunshine is all it takes to burn pale skin. Find some shade whenever possible, but especially in the middle of the day, between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.

Accessing private dermatology treatment

Moles and skin lesions can be worrying and can also affect your confidence, so it’s important that you seek advice from a Dermatologist.

At Benenden Hospital, our private dermatology consultation and diagnostic service offers quick access to an initial consultation and diagnostics led by our expert Dermatologists.

About our mole scanning service

Know what to look out for in your moles so that you can detect any signs of skin cancer early. Our mole scanning service provides you with an assessment of moles and pigmented lesions that you are worried about and can help to identify any that might be suspicious. 

Book online or contact our Private Patient team via Livechat or on 01580 363 158 for fast access to an appointment.

Published on 02 May 2023