Find out how you can protect yourself and your children from the risk of skin cancer, prevent sunburn, and learn about UV and vitamin D.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer. This can occur naturally via sunlight and artificially through the use of sun lamps and tanning beds. Unsafe exposure to ultraviolet radiation doesn't just happen on holiday; it happens in the UK, even when it's cloudy.

A tan does not protect your skin from the sun's harmful effects. In the UK more than 8 in 10 cases of melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) could be prevented through enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn.


The risk of skin cancer can be reduced by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, avoiding the sun during the middle of the day and using high sun protection factor ('spf') products.

The people most at risk are those with fair skin, lots of moles or freckles and have a family history of skin cancer. Babies' and young children's skin is very delicate and easily damaged. All children should be protected from the sun. Babies under 12 months should be kept in complete shade, covered up with a high factor sun lotion or sunblock.

Help and advice

It is important to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D. For more information see the NHS how to get vitamin D from sunlight page.

To find out about your risk, go to the Cancer Research UK am I at risk of sunburn page.

The World Health Organisation publishes information on the UV index.

The DEFRA website contains information about daily UV index graphs for nine locations across the UK.

Useful sources of information

For advice for adults and children on sunscreen and sun safety in the UK and aboard see the NHS sunscreen and sun safety page.

For information about skin cancer and skin disease visit the British Skin Foundation website.

Cancer Research UK SunSmart have advice and information for skin cancer and sun protection.

The Macmillan Cancer Support website provides detailed information on skin cancer, including how it is diagnosed, treatments you might have, possible side effects and how to get further support.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provide guidance and recommendations about the risks and benefits of sunlight exposure.