Sunscreen explained:

  • Prevents UV radiation reaching the skin
  • UVB (ultraviolet radiation) causes sunburn (and also enables vitamin D production)
  • UVA causes wrinkles, brown spots (photoageing)
  • Both UVB and UVA can contribute to the development of skin cancer
  • SPF = Sun Protection Factor (the number of times longer you can stay in the sun before burning compared to wearing no sunscreen) indicates UVB protection
  • The amount of UVB radiation that is filtered out varies with different SPFs:
    • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB;
    • SPF 30 blocks 96.7% of UVB;
    • SPF 50 blocks 98.3% of UVB.
  • Always check a product has UVA protection. It is not essential to have the Boots star rating, but if it has, look for 4 or 5 stars. The UVA in a circle is a marker of quality and indicates that the UV protection, specifically the critical wavelength, extends beyond 370nm.
  • The critical wavelength (CW) is the point at which 90% of the absorption of UV takes place. 370nm is accepted as a minimum standard worldwide.
  • Water resistant sunscreens are ideal for sports and outdoor activities
  • Some vitamin D will still be produced when wearing sunscreen (other than total block)
  • 40% of ultraviolet radiation reaches earth on a cloudy day
  • UVA penetrates through glass – so wear sunscreen when driving
  • Sun exposure occurs your entire life, not just during childhood

How to treat sunburn

  • Cool bath
  • Moisturiser
  • Hydrocortisone cream (available without prescription)
  • Drink extra water
  • In case of blisters covering a large area or chills seek medical assistance
  • Avoid sun until the skin is healed