UK weather: Health warning issued after hundreds treated for sunburn during heatwave

Sarah Young

A sunburn warning has been issued by Public Health England (PHE) after a spike in hospitalisations during the heatwave.

It urged people to take proper precautions, including using sun cream and wearing protective clothing, after 220 people were hospitalised over the last two months.

The Belfast Trust saw the highest number of patients, 69, needing treatment for sunburn, PHE warned that just one incident of sunburn could double the risk of malignant melanoma – a type of skin cancer.

“Our advice is to think about what you’re doing in the sun and use some common sense – know the limits of your own skin, don’t stay out in strong sunshine for too long, wear wraparound sunglasses, wear a hat, cover up with light clothing and, if you need to, seek shade during the hottest parts of the day and use sunscreen that’s at least factor 15, which also has good UV-A protection,” said PHE’s Professor John O’Hagan.

The warning came amid concerns that more people could be admitted to hospital across the UK as the hot weather shows no signs of slowing down in the coming weeks.

Forecasters have predicted that the hottest day of the year could be on the cards next week with temperatures reaching 34C in some parts of the country on Wednesday.

“Temperatures throughout next week into next weekend could remain hot,” said Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson.

“Wednesday we could see 33C to 34C. It won’t be everywhere; it will be particularly the southeast and London.

“That is very hot indeed, and there will be high levels of humidity for some places so it will feel muggy and humid.”

Mr Wilson also advised the public to take care in the high levels of UV. “If you are exposed to the sun, seek shade, cover up, use suntan lotion, drink lots of water and check on the vulnerable such as the elderly and the very young,” he said.

Despite warnings to stay out of the sun, it is likely that Brits will prepare to dash outside and top up their tans regardless, making sun cream an absolute necessity.

However, new YouGov research on the nation’s sun cream habits has revealed that almost a quarter (23 per cent) do not apply it during the summer or when on holiday, with men twice as likely to forego protection (31 per cent vs 15 per cent).

According to the NHS, sun cream should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears 30 minutes before you go out in the sun.

Adults should apply two teaspoons of sunscreen but two tablespoons are required if you’re covering the entire body while wearing a swimsuit.

This is because applying it too thinly can cause a reduction in the amount of protection it gives. It’s also important to reapply liberally and frequently after you’ve been in water, towel drying or sweating.