Home Health & Wellness Revealed: Countries with the Highest UV – Plus Tips from a Dermatologist on Protecting Your Skin

Revealed: Countries with the Highest UV – Plus Tips from a Dermatologist on Protecting Your Skin

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s estimated that 3 in 4 (77%) Brits are planning on travelling abroad this summer, so there’s no doubt that many people will be out and about in the sun.

But, with 40% of travellers admitting to getting sunburnt while on holiday abroad, it’s clear that we need to protect our skin better when holidaying.

That’s why The Day Clinic has researched the countries with the highest UV index to reveal which countries you should be extra careful with your skin.

The top 10 countries with the highest UV index

Ranking

Location

Average yearly UV index

1

Kenya

11.6

2

Singapore

11.5

3

Panama

10.9

4

Australia

10.75

5

Thailand

10.5

6

Sri Lanka

10.5

7

Madagascar

9.75

8

Vietnam

9.25

9

Cuba

8.8

10

Brazil

8.6

Kenya is revealed as the country with the highest annual UV index of 11.6 on average. With anything above a scale of 11 being considered ‘extreme’, skin protection needs to be taken very seriously if visiting this country.

Closely following Kenya in second place is Singapore, with an average UV index of 11.5, and in third place is Panama with 10.9.

Dr Nevianna Bordet, a consultant dermatologist at The Day Clinic, has shared tips to protect your skin if you’re going to be exposed to high UV rays while on holiday this year.

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible. This is very simple, but staying out of the sun is the best way to protect your skin. Although there are benefits to getting out in the sun and boosting your vitamin D, direct contact, especially with a high UV index, for long periods of time can have long-term effects on the skin, such as skin cancer.
  • Use SPF 50+ sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the better protected your skin is. SPF 50 sunscreen protects your skin from 98% of the sun, so it’s important to make sure you have a high-quality sunscreen to hand when in the sun
  • Remember to accessorise. Wearing a hat will protect your forehead, which is often in direct sunlight. Not only will it protect your skin from sunburn, but its long-term effects include slowing down the ageing process. Sunglasses with UV absorption also protect your eyes and the surrounding areas
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Applying sunscreen every two hours, at the minimum, is the best way to protect your skin, especially if you will be exposed to the sun for long periods of time. If you’re going in and out of water, it’s recommended to reapply every hour 
  • Avoid the sun at peak times of the day. The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm, so to protect yourself in countries with high UV index, try to avoid direct sunlight and sunbathing between those hours

Dr Bordet said: “The incidence of skin cancer in the UK is increasing year upon year and significantly younger people are developing certain types of skin cancer that were previously only found in much older people. Basal Cell Carcinoma, a skin cancer that was almost exclusively detected in people in their 60s and 70s is now much more common in those in their 30s and 40s.

“The factors implicated in this trend undoubtedly relate to increasing exposure to UV and climate-related changes, compounded by difficulties accessing advice around skin protection and surveillance.”

Although there are ways to protect yourself from sun damage, being out in the sunshine isn’t for everyone, especially if you have sensitive skin. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t holiday; there are plenty of countries with low average UV rates where sunning yourself isn’t the only option, so it will be easier to protect yourself. 

Countries with the lowest UV index 

Ranking 

Location 

Average yearly UV index 

1

Russia 

2

2

Falkland Islands 

2.3 

3

Germany 

3

4

France 

3.5

5

Canada 

3.5

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