May 2024

Survey reveals startling sunburn rates: Expert highlights serious risks

A shocking 51% of Brits surveyed by the British Skin Foundation (BSF) have accidentally sunburned themselves, even though 81% of people claim sun safety precautions are important to them and their family.

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation spokesperson explains that ‘Sunburn is an acute inflammatory reaction that follows over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation – it causes direct damage to DNA resulting in inflammation and death of skin cells. Sunburn in childhood or adolescence can double the risk of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, in later life.’

41% of those surveyed indicated that they would welcome reminders about protecting their skin in the summer months.

BSF's 'More, More, More' campaign brings sun safety to the forefront!

Luckily, to help fight against skin cancer and educate the public, the BSF has just launched its ‘More, More, More’ sun safety campaign encouraging Brits to wear more protective clothing, use more sunscreen and seek more shade during the summer months. With a quarter of people surveyed admitting that they forget about sun safety measures and need regular reminding; this campaign gives the British public the nudge they need to look after their skin health.

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Matthew Patey, Chief Executive Officer of the British Skin Foundation says: 

The skin is the body’s largest organ and looking after it is key. If you could reduce the risk of other forms of cancer with such simple measures, it would be a no-brainer! The message here is clear, more protection from harmful UV rays – whether with clothing, sunscreen or shade, ideally a combination of all three – reduces the risk of skin cancer in later life.’ 26% of the people surveyed confessed that they worry about the effects of sun damage, so our new campaign focuses on three easy steps that everyone can follow to protect their skin.

Three steps for sun safety

1. MORE protective clothing – cover up exposed skin with UPF clothing, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.

2. MORE sunscreen – use SPF 30 or above sunscreen on exposed skin and reapply at least every two hours or after swimming/sweating etc.

3. MORE shade – especially between 11am-3pm when UV index is highest. Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.

Survey reveals widespread confusion about sunscreen usage and labels

The survey has also highlighted public confusion over sunscreens, their labelling and how to apply.

 ● Nearly a quarter (24%) find sunscreen labels confusing.

 ● Almost one in five (18%) don’t understand how the SPF rating works. 

 ● Over one in ten (13%) don’t understand UVA and UVB.

 ● One in five (20%) don’t know which type of sunscreen to use.

 ● 16% are not sure how often to apply or reapply sunscreen.

 ● 16% don’t understand the difference between chemical and mineral (physical) sunscreens).

Cambridge mum of two, Charlotte Whitney says:

It’s shocking to hear that half of those surveyed have been sunburned when skin health is so important. Although sun safety is a top priority for me and my family, in the past we’ve always found it difficult to find trustworthy, easy to follow guidelines. So we welcome the BSF’s expert advice, especially when it comes to picking the right kind of sunscreen.

QR codes across the BSF’s campaign posters and leaflets lead to expert trustworthy advice on our website here. We cover everything from how to stay safe in the sun, dealing with sunburn, ensuring you get enough vitamin D to understanding sunscreen labelling and choosing the right sunscreen for your skin.

Dr Anjali Mahto welcomed the campaign:

As we head into the summer months, it’s vital that people take sun safety seriously. We know that melanoma skin cancer has the potential to kill. More protective clothing, more sunscreen and more shade can help prevent damage to the skin that may cause problems in later life. It’s never too late to start protecting your skin.

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