Sunburn Risks

The Health Risks of Sunburn

Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a recognised health hazard. Short-term exposure can cause sunburn (erythema) and photo-conjunctivitis, and long-term exposure can lead to chronic conditions such as photo-aging, skin cancer and cataracts.

The minimum erythemal dose, MED, is the daily amount of sunlight, or more technically correct the amount of solar UV light, that will cause skin to redden, i.e. burn (erythema).  The average MED values are known for all the different skin types.  People who are easily sunburnt usually are pale-skinned, i.e. skin type I or II.  As a result, the MED for these skin types are low, so that most Caucasians, skin type II, will suffer sunburn when exposed for only ca. 28 min on a summer’s day in the UK!  All sunburn indicators try to flag up the point when the wearer is near to receiving their MED – most assume the wearer is skin type II (and, therefore, are inappropriate all the other skin types).


Sun Safety Resources

In order to protect yourself from the sun, it’s a good idea to check the UV index before going out and a daily UV Index forecast for anywhere in the UK can be found at: