Sun protection: practical tips for the summer holidays

Sun protection

At a good two square metres, the skin is the largest organ in our bodies. That is why it needs to be protected from the sun, especially in summer. Particularly at and around midday, you should stay in the shade, and protect yourself with a hat, sunglasses and clothing, and make sure you put sunscreen on any bare skin. Because...

“unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a ‘healthy tan’.”

In this article, you will learn many more important and interesting tips about sun protection directly from Krebsliga Zentralschweiz. Many thanks to our partners at Krebsliga Zentralschweiz for their support for this post and important topic. Happy reading!

Tanning is how the skin protects itself – but not in children!

The sun is essential for human life, as it gives us light, warmth and wellbeing. But its UV rays are dangerous, because they can damage the skin. If you are in the sun for a long time, the skin’s pigment cells make melanin to protect themselves from UV radiation. This causes the skin to turn brown – a process that always damages the skin, resulting in premature skin ageing and potentially, over the years, skin cancer.

What’s more, children and young people are more sensitive to sun radiation than adults. The main reason for this is that the self-protection mechanism in their skin is not yet fully developed. It is therefore particularly important to protect children and young people from UV radiation. The skin never forgets sunburn – and sunburn in the early years of life increases the risk of developing melanoma (“black skin cancer”).

Enjoy the summer, but in the shade

Two-thirds of UV radiation hits the Earth over the midday period, which is why Krebsliga advises you to stay in the shade from 11am to 3pm. But be careful: not all shade is the same. Shade does not protect you from indirect radiation reflected from surfaces such as sand, concrete or water, or from lateral radiation.

Body parts covered by clothing are constantly protected all day long. A t-shirt that covers the shoulders provides good protection. The colour of your clothing is also an important factor. Although we often like to wear light colours in summer, because they absorb less heat, this is not advisable. Dark or brightly coloured clothing is better at keeping the UV radiation off the skin.

As well as the right clothes, it is also important to protect your head and eyes. Ideally, you should wear a broad-brimmed hat that also protects your forehead, nose, ears and the back of your neck, and sunglasses with the CE mark and the note “100% UV”.


Consistently using sunscreens is recommended on top of staying in the shade and covering yourself with clothes. The right sunscreen depends on various factors – the intensity of the UV rays, the length of time spent in the sun and how sun-sensitive the skin is. Krebsliga advises children and anyone with pale, sensitive skin types to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Everyone else should use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. On the other hand, the type of activity is also decisive. If, for example, you are staying in the mountains, or on or near water, then you need a very high SPF of 50 or more.

But be careful – not even sunscreens with a high SPF are a free pass for staying in the sun without a break.

Does sunscreen go out of date?

Have you ever wondered whether sunscreen has a best-before date? Yes, it does. However, this is not printed as a date like on foodstuffs, but shown as a character. On your sunscreen, you will find a symbol like an open pot and the number 12M (sometimes even 24M). This number tells you how long the product will keep for after being opened. So you don’t lose sight of when that was, Krebsliga advises that you use a permanent marker to note on the tube the date on which you first used your sunscreen. So, if I first used my sunscreen in June last year, I am recommended to start using a new sunscreen in July this year.

Sun protection products keep for considerably longer when unopened, approximately 30 to 36 months, provided they are kept in a cool, dry place.

“We want to reduce the number of people suffering from skin cancer, and raise awareness about the importance of sun protection, particularly among children and young people.”
- Krebsliga Zentralschweiz -

Picture book: The House in the Shade

As part of skin cancer prevention, Krebsliga therefore wishes to raise awareness among children and young people, to make them more careful about sun radiation. For example, it has collaborated with the University of Teacher Education Zug to develop teaching materials for children aged between four and eight. One of these materials is the picture book The House in the Shade, based on learning plan 21. The book aids pre-school teachers, nurseries and parents to talk about the subject in an age-appropriate, knowledgeable way. It has already been used in pre-schools, nurseries and playgroups in central Switzerland, in the cantons of Nidwalden, Obwalden, Uri and Zug. The book can be ordered from the Krebsliga Schweiz shop.

The Sun Protection Trail’s 10th anniversary

Krebsliga Zentralschweiz is involved in a close partnership with Krebsliga Schweiz to intensively develop interactive materials with different activities on the subject of sun protection. Thanks to the support of subsidy partner Zug Canton, a sun protection course was developed for pre-schools. It was based on the teaching materials and the book The House in the Shade and will be used for the first time in 2021. Awareness of sun protection has so far been raised in over 6000 children using the Sun Protection Trail, first introduced in primary schools in 2011. With exactly 1000 registrations, this year we reached highest number of children ever. A sustainable success story.

“This isn’t the first time I have done this trail. Very suitable for children, short but memorable!”
Quote from a member of teaching staff in a primary school

Krebsliga Zentralschweiz will be one of the organisations present at the Sun Protection Trail with Zuger Ferienpass on 19 July.


Krebsliga Zentralschweiz has been active for 65 years as a charitable organisation. It is a contact point for all issues to do with cancer, and is there for people with and after cancer and their support networks in the region. The central focus is on individual counselling and support. The organisation campaigns on cancer prevention and early detection, shares information and promotes research.

Krebsliga Zentralschweiz is active in all six central Swiss cantons. It has counselling centres in Lucerne, Lachen, Schwyz, Stans and Zug. Your donations make its work and services possible.


On the prevention and early detection of skin cancer
On the Sun Protection Trail for primary schools
On the Sun Protection Trail for pre-schools
Interview with Kerstin Hass on the programme Ratgeber, Tele 1:
Brochure “Sun protection in brief” by Krebsliga Schweiz:

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