Safe Sun Exposure: How To Protect Your Skin This Summer


Jade Poole

Holiday Health Hacks

Did you know that even those with darker skin still run the risk of skin cancer? Here’s how to protect your skin from the sun and lower your risk of skin cancer these holidays.

Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes spent in the sun and the damage caused from a burn is irreversible, permanent and accumulates each time you burn.

Skin cancer in South Africa

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and South Africa has one of the highest monitored UV (ultraviolet) levels in the world! This means we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer across the globe!

South Africa has the second-highest incidence of skin cancer (after Australia) in the world.

In fact, about 20 000 South Africans are diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer and about 1 500 are diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer a year.

Skin tones and skin cancer

People with fair skin

If you have blonde or red hair and have light skin with freckles, then you are more at risk of sunburn and skin damage, this means you need to take extra care when spending time in the sun.

Albinism and skin cancer

If you have the genetic condition known as Albinism, then you also need to take extra care when spending time outdoors as your risk of skin cancer is high. You should wear protective clothing when outdoors and ensure you wear sunblock at all times.

Dark skin

Keep in mind that EVERYONE is at risk of getting skin cancer, even those with dark skin tones. However, if you have darker skin then your risk is lower because your skin naturally contains more melanin which helps protect your skin from the sun.

What is melanin?

Melanin is a natural skin pigment, eye colour, hair and skin in animals and people depends on the amount and type of melanin they have. Special skin cells known as melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin.

Sun exposure and skin cancer

Skincare in the sun

There is no such thing as a safe tan!

Of course, avoiding sunshine entirely in a country like ours can be pretty difficult. Which is why we need to be extra cautious as South Africans.

Did you know that your skin remembers the burns and tans? According to experts, 3 or more really bad sunburns that result in blistering and peeling during your childhood, increase your risk of skin cancer as an adult.

Keeping kids safe in the sun these holidays

It’s often difficult to always remind our kids to cover up or put sunblock on. But by teaching your child safe sun exposure at a young age, this will help decrease their chances of skin cancer when they are older.

Here are some tips for kids:


  1. Make sure your kids wear a t-shirt when playing outside
  1. Ensure your child is wearing a hat when outside
  1. Cover up with SPF 30 or higher and apply 15 minutes before sun exposure
  1. Reapply sunblock after the first 30 minutes spent outside and then every hour or so following from that
  1. Between 10 am and 3 pm, try to encourage limited sun exposure
  1. You can still burn through clouds, so don’t take any chances!


Adults and sun safety

  1. Stick to an SPF of 30 or higher
  2. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your lips
  3. Stay in the shade between 10 am and 3 pm
  4. Don’t forget that the sun can also damage your eyes so make sure you wear a good pair of UV protected sunglasses

Fun fact!

Water-resistant sunblocks protect your skin for 40 minutes of water exposure. Water-proof sunblocks protect the skin for 80 minutes.

Get checked for skin cancer

Have a look at this article on strange-looking moles and skin cancer.

Those with fair skin need to get a professional full-body skin exam every year (or more if you have a very high risk).

Your doctor will then examine all the moles on your body and remove any suspicious-looking ones and send them to the lab for testing.

Health insurance for doctor visits

We get that private healthcare is expensive, and so is medical aid. Which is why you have the option of health insurance.

Health insurance gives you instant access to private healthcare and includes cover for GP visits (specialist visits in our top plan) and cover for accidents and emergencies.

With Oneplan, we even front you with the cash you need BEFORE you see your doctor of choice. We do this using our smart Oneplan App and unique Onecard. We will transfer the funds you need to your Onecard for you to swipe at your doctor’s rooms.

We have a range of healthcare plans for you to choose from, starting from only R365 a month for our Core Plan.

Stay safe in the sun these holidays, cover-up and ensure you use sunblock regularly.

Yours in hassle-free health insurance,


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