Sun Safety – Being Safe in the Sun

To be safe in the sun we should have an understanding of how to prevent of skin cancer.  It is also important to know the early signs of skin cancer.

Understanding suncream

Suncream is often applied too thinly – to cover the whole body about an eggcup amount is needed every 2-3 hours. It should also be applied at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun. You should never stay in the sun for excessive periods of time.  Suncream does not offer unlimited protection.

The higher the SPF factor on your cream, the greater the protection against UVB rays which Sun cream should be used regularlycause burning. Sun cream should be used regularly and in proper proportions, especially in a tropical climate. A high SPF factor will only help prevent burning – it will not always protect against UVA rays, which are not taken into account when calculating the SPF. UVA protection is usually rated separately between 2 and 4.

Using clothing to protect you in the sun

It is important when travelling to understand the risks associated with too much sun exposure. This is true not only on the beach. Snow, sand and water will also reflect the sun’s rays. Our choice of clothing can play a part in protecting our bodies.

Wear clothes that will protect you in the sun – sunglasses, clothing of tightly woven fabric and a sun hat covering the neck, ears and back of the neck.

Protection through lifestyle

Here in the UK we still consider a good tan to be “fashionable” and let’s face it who doesn’t feel better about themselves when they have developed a tan! However simple lifestyle changes as well as “everything in moderation” can help us lower our risk of skin cancer.

Staying in the shade between 11.00 and 15.00 hrs you can help prevent burning and overexposure. Too much exposure even in the UK can eventually lead to skin cancer, ageing, wrinkles or sunburn. When you arrive at your destination don’t sit out in the heat all for the whole time on the first day – gradual exposure to the sun is far safer, increasing your time as you get used to the sun.

Drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to prevent dehydration. If you are on any medication check with your doctor before you go away as some medications can make you more sensitive to the sun.

Keep an eye on those moles when you have been in the sun

Always consult with your Doctor or Nurse if you notice any unusual changes in your skin or your moles. Any moles which become itchy or bleed, or change in colour, shape or size should also be reported to your doctor.


Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional.  Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.