Is SPF really that important?

SPF protects you from sunburn from ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. 

Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer and can occur wherever you are, even if it’s cloudy so it’s important to always wear SPF when your skin is exposed to sunlight.  

Some top sun safety tips include: 

  • Spending time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest 
  • Make sure you don’t burn by regularly applying sun cream and go indoors if you can feel your skin burning
  • Cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses if you cannot avoid being in the sun for long periods of time 
  • Use at least factor 30 sunscreen – but do not solely rely on this 

Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed areas of skin regularly. 

What factor sunscreen (SPF) should I use? 

You should never solely rely on sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. 

When buying sunscreen look out for labels that have an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin against UVB and at least four-star UVA protection. 

When applying sunscreen make sure it is not past its expiry date – most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years. 

How much sunscreen should I apply and how often?

Adults should aim to apply around two teaspoons of sunscreen to your head, arms and neck and two tablespoons of sunscreen if you’re covering your entire body whilst wearing a swimming costume.

If you don’t apply enough sunscreen or the layer is too thin the amount of protection it gives is reduced. 

If you plan to be out in the sun for a long period of time you should apply sunscreen twice – 30 minutes before going out and again immediately before going out. 

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently and generously throughout the day – this includes after being in water, towel dying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off. 

We recommend reapplying sunscreen every two hours as the sun can dry it off your skin. 

Should I take extra care in the sun? 

It’s important to take extra care in the sun if you…

  • Have pale, white or light brown skin 
  • Have freckles, red hair or fair hair
  • Tend to burn rather than tan
  • Have many moles
  • Have skin problems relating to a medical condition
  • Are only exposed to intense sun occasionally – such as on holiday
  • Are in a hot country where the sun is particularly intense 
  • Have a family history of skin cancer 

You should urgently see a GP if… 

  1. Your skin is blistered or swollen
  2. Your temperature is very high, or you feel hot and shivery 
  3. You feel very tired, dizzy and sick 
  4. You have a headache and muscle cramps 

Severe sunburn can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

If you are concerned about your skin or moles you can book an appointment with one of our GPs. Call us on 0161 394 0045 or alternatively use our online booking form

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