Calls to protect against the sun

HOLIDAYMAKERS at home and abroad are being urged to ensure they are protected against the sun.

Radiation experts at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) are urging caution in the summer sun as thousands of people burn their skin after spending too long in the heat.

Sunburn is painful and clear evidence that skin has been damaged by over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, one of the main triggers of malignant melanoma which in turn is the number one cause of death from skin cancer.

Dr John O’Hagan, who heads up the optical radiation safety group at the HPA, said: “Being out in the sunshine in the summer is a perfectly natural and enjoyable thing to do and we very much want people to enjoy their summer holiday safely.

“But it’s also really important that people remember that being out in the sunshine at this time of the year, and especially at those times of day when the sun is at its highest, carries the risk of sunburn.”

He added: “Every year too many people from the UK who holiday here and abroad pay a price for not protecting themselves properly.

“However, some sun exposure is good for you and it is important to get the balance right.

“For example, there is no problem in taking a 15 minute walk in the sunshine at lunchtime.

“If you intend to sunbathe, or be outdoors for longer periods, it is important to take practical steps to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.”

The HPA recommends:-

• knowing how sensitive your skin is to the sun. Those with fair skin should take extra care;

• seeking out shade in the hottest part of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm;

• wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face, head and neck;

• using sunscreen of at least Factor 15 which also provides UVA protection, being applied generously and frequently.