Doctors say we should use three bottles of suncream each on holiday

Ceri Roberts

Most of us have got the message about protecting ourselves in the sun, but doctors now think that following official guidelines could be putting us at risk.

A new report concludes that recommendations to use a minimum of SPF15 requires an urgent rethink because it only offers all-day protection if it is applied thickly.

In the paper, published today in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, a team of doctors write:

'In reality, people using sunscreens typically apply much less than this and get no more than half, at best, of the protection indicated by the labelled sun protection factor.'

In January, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidance that people should wear broad-spectrum sun creams, which protect against UVA and UVB radiation. It said they should have an SPF of at least 15, applied at least every two hours, using about 35ml for a single application. On a beach holiday this would mean that one person would get through almost three bottles in one week.

However, today's report found that people usually apply much less than this, so should opt for SPF 30 instead. Using creams with a high SPF and a four or five star rating should provide protection from sunburn in most cases.

Stay safe in the sun by applying factor 30 to all exposed areas, including ears and backs of hands. It's important to pay special attention to vulnerable areas like the nose, shoulders, tops of feet and back of the neck, spread suncream evenly and reapply regularly.

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