Talking Points

Talking Points

How to protect your skin on holiday

October 16, 2014 at 11:08 am


At this time of year with the summer approaching, everyone is getting ready to reward themselves with a holiday in the sun. As soon as the sun appears people take maximum advantage of it because who knows how long it will last? These images, for instance, are from Glasgow in the last two weeks.

There is a lot of information available about sun protection but how are you best to protect yourself effectively during a holiday in the sun?


General measures

It is important after a hard year of working that people go on holiday and relax without having to worry too much about the adverse effects of the sun. I therefore fully accept that, no matter what dermatologists may say people are going to sunbathe.

But the first thing to be aware of is that direct sunlight on the skin is what does most damage. The simplest way to protect your skin is to stay in the shade as much as possible. That means lying under an umbrella if you are lying out in the sun or sitting in the shade if you are having lunch. If you are walking around you should wear a hat, light clothing and UV protective sunglasses.



protection-2There is a lot of good evidence that future lifetime risk of skin cancer is determined during childhood. The more sun damage children have, the higher the chance that they will develop skin cancer later in life. It is therefore very important that children are thoroughly protected. Infants younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight completely. For older kids, good high factor sunscreens are important. However you can protect children more effectively by using hats, sunglasses and protective clothing designed specifically for the beach and for holidays in the sun.



Inevitably there are going to be times when you cannot be in the shade and sunscreen is necessary to protect your skin.


Which type of sunscreen?

There are a lot of effective sunscreens available at reasonable prices. It is best to buy a reputable make that will give good protection from UVA and UVB which theoretically should reduce your risk of skin cancer and reduce the aging effects of the skin. Creams, gels, sticks and sprays are available and vary a lot in terms of colour, texture and smell, so it’s important to choose one that suits you otherwise you are unlikely you will use it effectively. For instance some of the barrier types of sunscreen are white and pasty which would not be to everyone’s liking although they are very effective. So try different products to find one that you like then use it as directed.


Which factor?

Most people do not apply enough sunscreen to benefit from the protection factor stated on the bottle. On average most people apply only a half to a quarter of the required amount. To compensate for that it is suggested that you apply a higher factor sunscreen than the protection you would like. In other words if you are wanting SPF 15, instead apply SPF 30 and this should give you sufficient protection.


How much should I apply?

As a rough guide you need to apply about a shot glass full each time. You should apply it about 20 minutes before going out in the sun and about every two hours while you are in the sun. You should reapply it whenever you have been swimming. This means that one bottle of sunscreen is unlikely to last a whole week so be sure to take enough with you on holiday.

Enjoy your holiday in the sun and stay healthy.

If you have any questions about the sun and skin cancer please arrange an appointment with Dr Herd at Ross Hall hospital via the link below.


Over 10,000 cases of skin cancer per year in Scotland. Don't become a number.
Call now on 0141 810 3151 or email

I had just been told after attending the Mole Clinic at my local pharmacy that I could potentially have a melanoma on my right leg. Obviously I was very worried and upset by this and when I met Dr. Herd he did his best to try and reassure me. The mole was removed and after a few anxious weeks my results came back fine. I have since seen Dr. Herd on a regular basis over the years for annual skin check ups and I find that his calming and friendly manner gives me peace of mind.