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To coincide with Sun Awareness Week, NHS Fife is offering a series of top tips to ensure people do not get caught out by the summer sun.

Sun Awareness Week, which is organised by the British Association of Dermatologists, runs from 09 May to 15 May 2016 and seeks to highlight the need to protect ourselves against prolonged exposure to the sun.

Summertime naturally brings us outdoors, whether we are enjoying trips to the park or having a barbecue with family and friends.

Whilst spending time in the sun can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of summer, without taking simple precautions to guard against the effects of the sun we can be putting ourselves at a much greater risk of skin cancer and other serious health conditions.

In Scotland, the summer sun is at its peak between the hours of 11am and 3pm and it is especially important that precautions are taken to protect skin from burning during these times. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun is the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers. You can greatly reduce these risks by following a few simple steps:

1)    Spend some time in the shade – taking advantage of nearby trees, foliage or parasols can often be the best way to avoid harmful UV rays. Keeping covered up with clothing also helps to protect your skin.

2)    Wear sunscreen – if you can’t avoid exposure to the sun, sunscreen is an essential way to protect against UV rays; NHS Fife would recommend using sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30.

3)    Wear sunglasses and hats – hats are fantastic for providing protection around the face, head and eyes, whilst sunglasses are also a good way to protect eyes against potentially dangerous UV rays. NHS Fife would recommend glasses that state they offer 100% UV protection.

Dr Susannah Fraser, a Consultant Dermatologist in NHS Fife, said: “It is important that people realise that sunscreen must be worn not only when abroad, but from April to October in Scotland as well. The sun at home can be harsh enough to cause sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. Children’s skin is more sensitive to the sun, so SPF50 should be applied liberally and frequently, and hats should be worn. People also need to be aware of any lesions on their skin which change rapidly, or get much darker or bleed, as it would be sensible to get them checked out by their GP.’