News & Media

Press Release

May 25, 2017

The BAD guide to coping during a British heatwave

Comment from Matthew Gass of the British Association of Dermatologists:

“What with the UK’s notoriously hit and miss summers, it’s not surprising that people get excited at the prospect of a heatwave. However, nobody wants to go into work or school the next day sunburnt from head to toe. Quite aside from the potential embarrassment it can be very damaging to your skin. We aren’t advocating that people stay out of the sun altogether, but that they take extra care during the hottest parts of the day. People with pale skin are particularly at risk of sun damage, while naturally darker skin types, such as Asian or African-Caribbean skin types, are at less risk of sunburn in the UK, though it is still possible.”

Top tips:

1. Wear protective clothing: Protective clothing means anything that will help block the sun’s rays. We recommend a t-shirt, hat, and sunglasses. A hat is particularly important if you are bald, or have thinning hair as the scalp can be particularly susceptible to sun damage

2. Seek shade: Studies have shown that even with sunscreen you can get burnt. During the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm it’s best to get plenty of shade.

3. Slather on the sunscreen: You want a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 and good UVA protection – look for at least 4 UVA stars or the UVA circle. Remember to reapply regularly, roughly every two hours, even if you are using an extended wear sunscreen – it’s easy to miss spots or rub sunscreen off.

4. Vitamin D: The British Association of Dermatologists doesn’t recommend sunbathing to top up your vitamin D levels, particularly during heatwaves and particularly for Caucasian skin types. There are other ways to get vitamin D, such as in fortified foods and supplementation. Small amounts of sunlight will help boost vitamin D but at the level where skin starts to redden, vitamin D has long reached its optimum level and instead, skin is receiving damage that can lead to cancer.

5. Carry water with you: Dehydration can be a serious problem, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids (not alcohol or caffeine), particularly on hot days. For information on the symptoms of dehydration visit: