Sunburn - The Facts

Skin Cancer Information

Sunburn is a reaction to UV radiation and is a clear sign that
you have seriously damaged your skin.

Skin cancer is the UK’s most common and fastest rising cancer.
It is now one of the biggest cancer killers in 15-34 year olds.


Solar Ultra Violet Radiation (UVR) is a known carcinogen.
It cannot be seen or felt and is the primary cause of skin cancer


Sunbeds are not safe - FACT! UV radiation from sunbeds can
cause serious and irreparable damage and cause melanoma


Worried about Vitamin D? Know the facts and how much sun
we need to produce the required daily levels.


Our skin is our body’s largest organ that performs a variety of
vital functions - learn how UVR affects and damages our skin


All skin types can be damaged by UVR, but some skin types
and family history of skin cancer can mean you are more at risk


How we tan:

Skin colour is dependent on a pigment called melanin. This is produced by specialised cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce packets of melanin called melanosomes and transfers them to the skin cells of the epidermis. Melanocytes are found throughout the skin. All races have the same number of melanoctyes. Black skin, however, has more melanosomes, giving better sun protection and more pigmentation. There are two types of melanin pigmentation: Genetically inherited skin tone, the other caused by sun exposure. Melanin protects your skin by absorbing harmful UV
radiation and it darkens when doing so, producing pigmentation and leaving you with a sun tan.

Sunburn and skin cancer Facts:

  • One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
  • A person's risk for developing melanoma also doubles if he or she has had five or
    more sunburns at any age.
  • The sun exposure pattern believed to result in melanoma is that of brief, intense exposure for example a blistering sunburn - rather than years of tanning.
  • Some people can develop sunburn after less than 15 minutes of sun exposure!

What is Sunburn and what happens to our skin?
Sunburn is a reaction to over exposure of UV radiation.
The superficial layers of the skin release chemicals
that cause your blood vessels to expand and leak
fluid causing swelling, pain and redness. Without
sun protection, UV radiation penetrates deep into
the layers of the skin causing damage to the skin
cells. Skin turns red within 2-6 hours of being
exposed and reaches peak redness after 8-24 hours.
It can take several days for the redness to subside.

Danger times for sunburn: UV radiation is most intense between 11am to 3pm in the British summer time. Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes sunbathing on a clear summer's day. People are most likely to get burnt when participating in sports or leisure activities and are not thinking about the sun and protecting themselves.

Peeling: Damaged skin cells self-destruct and peel off in sheets. It is the body's way of ridding itself of damaged skin cells that might develop into cancers.

Prevention is better than cure!
Protective attitudes to sun exposure during childhood can lead to fewer moles, a known risk factor for melanoma. Children who grow up with a knowledge and understanding of the importance of sun
safety are less likely to burn and damage their skin which can lead to skin cancer.
It is therefore imperative that children are educated about sun protection and sensible precautions.
Is your child's school Sun Safe? To find out how to get your child's school involved click here >
For information on how to adequately protect yourself and family against UV and sunburn, please go to: Skin cancer prevention >

You may also be interested in the following related topics:

Skin Cancer TypesCheck Your SkinMelanoma FactsEarly Detection
Sun Safety & Skin Cancer Booklet
Sun Safety & Skin Cancer Booklet
Download all you need to
know in one handy little book
Skin Cancer Prevention Top Tips
Skin Cancer Prevention Top Tips
Look after your skin and follow
the golden rules of sun safety
Skin Cancer - The Warning Signs
Skin Cancer - The Warning Signs
Learn how to check your skin and
what you should be looking for...
Spotlight Topics

Sun Safe Schools
Sun Safe Schools
National primary school accreditation scheme developed by Skcin to teach children and assist schools and parents on the importance of sun safety
Sun Safe Nurseries
Sun Safe Nurseries
National pre-school accreditation scheme developed by Skcin to teach children and assist settings and parents on the importance of sun safety
Sun Safe Workplaces
Sun Safe Workplaces
National workplace accreditation scheme developed by Skcin to teach outdoor workers and employers the importance of sun safety
Virgin Holidays
Virgin Holidays
Skcin have partnered with Virgin Holidays to target the most difficult ‘at risk’ group of holiday makers and active tan seekers for all year round awareness

Articles of interest

The Farningham Day Nursery Completes Step 3 towards becoming a Sun Safe Nursery - Teaching Resources & Activities

Congratulations to The Farningham Day Nursery for reading George the Sun Safe Superstar to all their children and introd...

Congratulations to Nethertonrimary School who have just renewed their Sun Safe Schools Accreditation.

Skcin are pleased to announce that Nethertonrimary School in Lanarkshire have renewed their Sun Safe Schools Accreditati...

Step By Step Nursery Completes Step 1 towards becoming a Sun Safe Nursery - Sun Hats, Sunscreen & Role Models

Congratulations to Step By Step Nursery for issuing Sun Safety Fact Sheets to all their pupils. Step By Step Nursery has...

Holbrook CE Primary School Completes Step 4 towards becoming a Sun Safe School - Lesson Plan

Congratulations to Holbrook CE Primary School for carrying out the ‘George the Sun Safe Superstar’ Lesson Pl...

Our lads on BBC Radio Sheffield this morning raising awareness of Skin cancer and motor neurone disease and request...