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Sunburn, especially in childhood, can age the skin prematurely and increase the risk of skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma). Most sun damage is caused by the ultraviolet (UV) component of sunlight. UVB enters the dermis, causing inflammation or sunburn. UVA penetrates further and damages supporting tissues, leading to ageing effects. UVA and UVB both play a part in causing skin cancers. Particularly at risk from sun exposure are those with:

  • Fair skin or red hair
  • Numerous moles
  • A history of previous sunburn
  • A close relative with skin cancer (melanoma)
  • An outdoor occupation or recreation, or who are
  • Receiving chemotherapy

See also Skin cancer

Sun safety

Advice to patients

  • Find shade between 11 and 3 (or when your shadow is shorter than you).
  • Cover up with loose clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, good quality wraparound sunglasses.
  • Use a sunscreen (in-date, SPF 15+, broad-screen [blocks UVA&UVB]), apply generously and regularly.

British Association of Dermatologists Skin cancer (and sun safety).  Information for patients.

Cancer Research UK. Sun, UV and cancer. 

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