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Practising Sun Safety:

Are You Ready for the Summer?

With plenty of beautiful spring days ahead and summer right around the corner, most of us are looking forward to spending extra time outdoors. Lazy, sunny days may seem like the perfect time to be carefree, but it’s also an important time to be careful. More time outdoors potentially means more time exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is the leading cause of skin cancer.

May is a good time to consider year-round habits and strategies to help prevent skin cancer. Each year, more than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK. Melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, is the UK’s fifth most common cancer, causing more than 2,000 deaths each year. Skin cancer has become more common in the UK in recent years, possibly because of more exposure to intense sunshine whilst on holiday abroad. Fortunately, both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers are highly curable if detected and treated early. And taking steps to limit your exposure to UV radiation from the sun—as well as completely avoiding the use of tanning booths, tanning beds, and sunlamps—may help reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Here are some tips to practise year round to make outdoor time safer:



  • Limit Your Time in the Midday Sun.

    Try to limit your outdoor activities when UV rays are the strongest, which is between 11 am and 3 pm from March to October in the UK. Plan outdoor activities for other times of the day when the sun’s rays are less intense.


  • Seek Shade.

    Use the shade to protect yourself whilst outdoors, especially when UV rays are at their height. Be aware, however, that shade from trees, canopies, and umbrellas can’t provide complete protection.


Our What You Should Know About Skin Cancer Folding Display

provides the basic facts about skin cancer.




  • Cover Up With Protective Clothing.

    Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts to cover as much of your skin as possible. Cover up with dry, tightly woven fabrics. Dark-coloured clothing may offer additional protection. Some clothing is specifically manufactured and labelled as sun-protective.


  • Wear a Protective Hat

    Select a hat made of tightly woven material with a wide brim that goes all the way around or a hat with a neck flap so that as much as possible of your face, ears, and the back of your neck are covered. Caps and visors offer limited protection.


  • Shield Your Eyes With Sunglasses.

    Exposure to UV rays can cause painful eye inflammation and increase the risk for cataracts. Choose large-framed, wraparound lenses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
Geared toward young people, our Sun Safety: Ban the Burn Folding Display

explains the importance of sun safety.




  • Use Sunscreen.

    Put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen (one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays) before heading outdoors—even on cloudy days. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Higher numbers offer greater protection. Apply a generous amount, and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating. Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm containing at least SPF 15.


  • Don’t Use Tanning Beds, Tanning Booths, or Sunlamps.

    Tanning beds, tanning booths, and sunlamps expose you to the same damaging UVA and UVB rays as the sun. Using a tanning bed, tanning booth, or sunlamp is not a safe alternative to tanning in the sun. Whether from the sun or from a tanning bed, tanning booth, or sunlamp, a tan is a sign of skin damage.


  • Check Your Skin Regularly.

    Regularly examining your skin can help you become familiar with the usual appearance of any moles, birthmarks, or blemishes. Report any changes you find to your healthcare professional.


A great leaflet, our Skin Cancer Self-Exam Door Hanger

explains how to perform monthly skin self-exams.


Keep in Mind: Protecting young people’s skin from damage is especially important. Most sun damage occurs during childhood. Studies suggest that blistering sunburns during childhood can increase the risk of developing both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Young people who use tanning beds, booths, or sunlamps also increase their risk of melanoma.

To see more of our sun safety resources, check out our Sun Safety Section.