Summer Health

You should aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight. Sun ages the skin and sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. There is no safe way to get a tan from sun exposure, so you might want to use ‘fake tan’ products instead. 

Safety Tips to consider when enjoying the sunshine:

  • The sun is at its highest between 11am and 3pm in the UK, so spend time in the shade during this period.
  • Cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses.
  • Make sure you never burn by using a sun protection factor of at least SPF 30, with at least a 4-star UVA protection. 
  • Take extra care with children. Children under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin before going out, including the face, neck and ears, and head if you have thinning or no hair, but a wide-brimmed hat is better. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied liberally and frequently, and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This includes applying it straight after you have been in water, even if it’s “water resistant”, and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off. It’s also recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, as the sun can dry it off your skin.

People who spend a lot of time in the sun, whether it’s for work or play, are at increased risk of skin cancer if they do not take the right precautions. People with naturally brown or black skin are less likely to get skin cancer, as darker skin has some protection against UV rays. But skin cancer can still occur.

You should take extra care in the sun if you:

  • Have pale, white or light brown skin
  • Have freckles or red or fair hair
  • Tend to burn rather than tan
  • Have many moles (if any moles or lumps are new or have changed shape, size or colour, have these checked as soon as possible).
  • Have skin problems relating to a medical condition
  • Are only exposed to intense sun occasionally (for example, whilst on holiday)
  • Are in a hot country where the sun is particularly intense
  • Have a family history of skin cancer

Coping in the hot weather can be particularly difficult for at risk groups, including older people over 75, babies and young children, people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems, people with mobility problems, people with serious mental health problems, those who misuse drugs or alcohol, those taking photo-sensitive medicines, and people who are physically active, for example, labourers or those doing sports:

  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes
  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day; open windows at night when the temperature has dropped
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter)
  • If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Water, lower-fat milks, and tea and coffee are good options
  • If you must go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with the CE Mark and British Standard Mark 12312-1:2013 E
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves


It always best not to get sunburnt, however if you do, carefully sponge the skin with cool water and apply soothing aftersun.  Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen will help ease the pain and stay out of the sun until all redness has gone.  If the skin swells or blisters badly, seek medical attention.