HEALTH professionals have warned people to take more care in the sun after a 15 per cent rise in skin cancer deaths in the South West.

There were 284 deaths as a result of malignant melanoma in the region in 2014, up from 248 in 2009.

Cases of malignant melanoma increased by 32 per cent in the region over the same period.

Figures calculated between 2010 and 2012 show that the number of cases of malignant melanoma in Dorset during that period was 54 per cent above the national average.

To help combat this trend, NHS England South is launching its 'Cover Up, Mate' campaign, targeting workers who spend a large amount of time outdoors, such as farmers, builders and gardeners.

Sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer, which can develop slowly over time even after sunburn appears to have healed.

The campaign is targeted particularly at men as a result of research indicating that they are far less likely than women to apply sunscreen before going outside.

NHS guidance recommends that people apply sunscreen of at least factor 15 before going out into the sun. 

The hashtag #CoverUpMate will be used to raise awareness of the campaign on social media.

NHS England South medical director Dr Liz Mearns said: "All outdoor workers need to be protecting themselves from the sun’s harmful effects when working outside during long sunny periods.

"Covering up from the harmful effects of the sun, and using sun cream with a high UV protection factor will help reduce the risk of developing potentially fatal melanoma.

"By taking just a few simple steps to protect their skin, outdoor workers can significantly reduce their personal risk of developing a potentially fatal skin cancer."

Holidaymakers have also been warned to keep themselves safe, with thousands of visitors set to flock to Weymouth during the summer months.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council tourism spokesman Cllr Jason Osborne said: "Come to Weymouth and enjoy the sun, but don't underestimate the effects it can have, on the young especially.

"Regularly apply a high factor [of sunscreen] and wear hats.

"Even on a dull day, do not think that you are not going to suffer from sunburn."