By Vicky Anscombe on 05 May 2015

It's Sun Awareness Week, and a new study of 1,000 British adults has shown that Brits aren't taking sun safety as seriously as they should.

A new study conducted by the British Association of Dermatologists has revealed that nearly three out of four Britons suffered sunburn last year, doubling their risk of skin cancer. And the vast majority of people questioned don't check their skin once a month for skin cancer, while three out of four would not even recognise signs of skin cancer.

Sunburn massively increases your chances of developing melanoma - according to research, people who have burned have doubled their chances of contracting the disease.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and rates have been climbing since the 1960s as more and more people have been going abroad on holiday. Every year, around 2,000 people die from the disease.

Johnathon Major, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: "This is a reflection of poor sun protection habits - people underestimate the damage that sunburn can do to their skin, and many think that skin reddening is just a harmless part of the tanning process, rather than a sure sign that you have damaged your skin irreparably."

Here's how to stay safe in the sun this summer:

  • If your shadow is shorter than you are, then the sun is strong. The sun tends to be at its strongest between 11am and 3pm; make sure that you seek shade during these times.
  • When you're swimming, make sure you top up your sun lotion before going in the pool and wear a t-shirt and hat. Your sun lotion should provide UVA and UVB coverage.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate you.
  • When buying sunglasses, bear in mind that they should have the CE Mark and British Standard (BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013), a UV 400 label and a statement which confirms that the sunglasses offer 100% UV protection.
  • If you feel dizzy or sick, get out of the sun and find somewhere quiet and cool to lie down and rehydrate.
  • If you do burn, painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, will ease the pain by helping to reduce inflammation. Sore skin can be gently dabbed with a cold cloth or ice wrapped in a flannel; if you feel unwell or the skin swells badly or blisters, seek medical help.

Image credit: Flickr/Lady May Pamintuan

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