Top tips for having fun in the sun

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With spring in full swing and warmer weather right around the corner, it’s important that people in Leicestershire and Rutland remember to protect themselves against the harmful effects of sun exposure.

In support of Sun Awareness Week (6-12 May 2019), health bosses at West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) want to ensure you stay safe.

After a long, grey winter, the return of the sunshine is more than welcome. A moderate amount of sunshine is good for us all. In fact it’s recommended. It provides essential vitamin D, which we need for good health, it improves our mood and helps promote better sleep.

However, too much sun can be damaging. Protecting yourselves and your families from the sun not only prevents painful sunburn and heatstroke, but also significantly reduces the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Dr Y. B Shah, a Leicestershire GP said: “Exposing your skin to too much sun at peak times can cause sunburn or heatstroke and increase the likelihood of cancer.  Sun is particularly harmful to young children who have delicate skin, so keep children in the shade when the sun's rays are at their strongest – usually between 11am and 3pm - and make sure they wear good protective clothing.

“Apply a sunscreen, which protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor [SPF] of 50 gives the best protection. Re-apply sunscreen every couple of hours during a day in the sun, especially if your child is in and out of water. Water washes off sunscreen, and the cooling effect of the water masks the feeling of getting burned. It is also recommended that you take breaks in the shade. This will not only help protect your skin from the sun but will ensure that you don’t overheat and get dehydrated.

For minor sunburn it is best to sponge sore skin with cool water, then apply soothing after sun or calamine lotion. Your local pharmacy can advise on over the counter treatment to help ease symptoms and reduce inflammation, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.

If you have a more severe burn – skin that is badly blistered and swollen – you should seek medical help by visiting your local pharmacist, calling NHS 111 or booking an appointment with your GP.

For more information on sun safety, visit the NHS website.