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New Zealand receives high levels of damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, especially between September and April when the sun is more directly overhead. It’s these UV rays (which you can’t see or feel) that cause sunburn. It's important to remember that you can still get sunburnt on cool or cloudy days as most of the harmful UV light can penetrate cloud cover, and cooler air doesn’t lessen the intensity of the rays. Being in the water also offers minimal protection.

Sunburn increases the risk of developing skin cancer and eye damage at any age. Skin cancer, including melanoma, is the most common cancer in New Zealand. Melanoma, if left untreated, can spread rapidly around the body, and prove fatal. So, it makes good sense to protect yourself and your family – especially babies and children – from the effects of UV rays.

How to stay protected from the sun’s harmful rays

Between September and April each year:

  • Apply sunscreen with a rating of SPF 30 or higher to exposed parts of your skin, especially head, face and neck, 20 minutes before going outside. Apply more sunscreen every few hours, especially if you’ve been swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt with a close weave and darker colour when outdoors as this will give you better protection.
  • Protect your eyes by putting on a pair of close-fitting, wrap-around type sunglasses with a good UV protection rating (check the label for this information when you buy them). Make sure your children are wearing sunglasses too.
  • Avoid being out the sun in the hottest part of the day, between 10am and 4pm. Instead, seek the shade of an umbrella or tree, and plan your outdoor activities for earlier and later in the day when the UV radiation is not so intense.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, neck, face, and ears – the areas that get sunburned most. Kids can wear caps with flaps that cover their ears.

The team at Clive’s Chemist can provide you with “sun smart” information. Pop in and ask, especially about the best sunscreen for you and your children.

Find out more:

About being SunSmart:

About melanoma:

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