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What sun protection factor (SPF) should I use?
Fair skin burns within 10 minutes. A factor 15 cream offers sun protection for 10x15 = 150 minutes.
Sunscreen should not be used as an excuse to stay out in the sun. Instead, it offers protection when exposure is unavoidable.
Should I choose a sunscreen with a UVA filter, a UVB filter or both?
Choose a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. Look for an SPF of 15+ and a high level of UVA protection.
UVA are long-wave solar rays blamed for ageing and UVB are short-wave solar rays blamed for burning. Both are dangerous.
How long can I stay in the sun?
This depends on where you are, the time of day, your skin type, cloud cover and the UV index.
It can take as little as 10 minutes to burn on a hot summer’s day in the UK. Clouds block only 50% of UV light so the risk of burning is only slightly reduced.
Should I reapply sunscreen if I swim?
Water washes off sunscreen and the cooling effect of the water can make you think you're not getting burned. Water also reflects UV rays, increasing exposure.
Use a water resistant sunscreen and reapply it straight after coming out of the water and at least every two hours.
What should I do if I get sunburn?
Aspirin or ibuprofen will ease the pain by helping to reduce inflammation. Sponge sore skin with cool water, then apply soothing aftersun or calamine lotion.
If you feel unwell or the skin swells badly or blisters, seek medical help. Stay out of the sun until all signs of redness have gone.
Are children more at risk of sunburn?
Children’s skin is more sensitive and they should be protected with clothing and a photostable sunscreen with an SPF of more than 30 as well as a high UVA coverage.
Sand on the beach reflects UV light, so keep children well protected, even in the shade. Never place a baby in direct sunlight.
My child has eczema. What sunscreen should I use?
Some suncreens may aggravate eczema. Check the label for any ingredients that you know your child is allergic to.
Salt, chlorine and sand can all irritate your child’s eczema, so apply emollient liberally before swimming if at all possible.
What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body cannot lose heat fast enough. If not treated quickly, it can lead to heat stroke, which is a much more dangerous condition.
Signs of heat exhaustion include faintness, dizziness, palpitations, nausea, headaches, low blood pressure, tiredness, confusion, loss of appetite and hallucinations.
What should I do if someone has signs of heat exhaustion?
Move them out of the sun to a cool, shady spot or room to relax. Lay the person down on their back and elevate their feet slightly.
Loosen or remove clothing. Get the person to drink cold (not iced) water to replace lost fluids. Monitor the person closely.
Should I cover up my mole when I’m in the sun?
If you have lots of moles or freckles, you're more likely to develop skin cancer, so you need to take extra care.
Moles and freckles can also darken in the sun, which is another reason to use sunscreen.
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