April may have been a miserable month here in the UK, but if you have planned a trip to warmer climes this summer, it’s important not to let such dreary conditions lead you to forget about sun protection when you travel.

Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause sunburn, unwanted moles and blemishes, as well as heat exhaustion. Make sure to moderate your exposure to the sun with these simple yet crucial tips.


What to wear

The best way to protect yourself from UV rays is by ensuring that your skin is covered. Long sleeve tops and long trousers or skirts are an easy way to prevent sunburn, especially if they are made from close-weave fabrics able to stop the sun’s rays passing through. Many shops also now stock clothing designed specifically for sun protection – particularly for children.

Basic accessories can also keep you in the shade, such as sunglasses (with 99% to 100% UV absorption) and wide-brimmed sun hats. This helps protect areas at particular risk of sunburn, such as the face, neck and shoulders.


Always wear sun cream

Part of the joy of being able to head to a hotter destination is being able to wander around in nothing more than shorts and a T-shirt or even swimwear. While this does allow you to soak up some much-needed vitamin D and work on your tan, it is crucial that naked skin is never neglected and left to burn.

Always apply suncream before venturing outside in the morning and re-apply liberally throughout the day.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or higher is recommended. When buying suncream, be sure to check the SPF (sun protection factor). Roughly speaking, the SPF number multiplies the amount of time in which you can spend out in the sun before you burn. For instance – if it takes 15 minutes for your skin to start burning normally, but you apply SPF 15 sunscreen (15×15), then that gives you 225 minutes before you will find yourself at risk again.

It is essential to state, however, that this figure can be affected by a number of contributing factors. Spending time in the swimming pool or sweating profusely, for instance, can cause sun tan lotion to come off and reduce your resistance to the sun’s rays. For this reason, you should always re-apply cream regularly to reduce the risk of burning.

The application of suncream is particularly important for children. Young children typically have more delicate skin than adults, which results in an increased risk of burning. In the case of small children who refuse to sit still for the application of sun tan lotion, or active children playing in a swimming pool, consider using a UV suit or T-shirt to supplement cream.


How to treat sunburn and other blemishes

If you are unfortunate enough to get sunburnt, it is important to apply cool water with a sponge to the affected area, and then treat with calamine oil or after-sun lotion. Everyday painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are also good for keeping the burn from becoming inflamed. In more severe cases, seek medical attention.

Check your body for new moles if you feel you’ve been out in the sun too long. New moles can be an early sign of skin cancer, so it is always important to report these to your local GP as soon as possible. The early identification and treatment of skin cancer can significantly improve recovery rates and prevent the disease from spreading.


Heading abroad this year? Need advice or guidance in relation to travel health? Get in touch with Express Travel Clinic today on 0208 993 5889.