HSE National Cancer Control Programme and Healthy Ireland launch new skin cancer awareness campaign

Be SunSmart this outdoor summer in Ireland

As we head into the June bank holiday weekend, the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and Healthy Ireland are supporting you to enjoy the sun safely with the launch of the new SunSmart awareness campaign.  Whether you are out for a walk, grabbing a coffee, playing sport, simply relaxing in your garden or dining outdoors from next Monday, be SunSmart and protect your skin, even when it’s cloudy out.

To reduce skin cancer risk, it is important to protect your skin when outside, especially from April to September when ultraviolet rays from the sun are strongest. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, with over 13,000 cases annually. This number is projected to more than double again by 20451. Yet in most cases, skin cancers could be prevented.

The 2019 Healthy Ireland survey found that most of us use sunscreen of factor 30 or higher (68%) or wear sunglasses (60%) to protect ourselves from the sun. However, less than half of us wear a hat to protect face, neck, and ears (42%), limit the time spent in the sun (31%) or stay in the shade when outdoors (28%). Seeking shade and covering skin with clothing are some of the best ways to protect skin from sun damage.

Dr Caitríona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE National Cancer Control Programme says, “No sunscreen can provide 100% protection; it is important to use shade, clothes and sunglasses too. In this way you get the best possible protection from UV damage.  In Ireland, make sun protection part of your daily routine particularly from April-September, even when it is cloudy. Stay safe by limiting time in the midday sun when UV is strongest, typically between the hours of 11:00am-3:00pm.”

To encourage people to be SunSmart, protecting their skin, even when it's cloudy, the HSE and Healthy Ireland will launch the SunSmart radio and social media campaign this June bank holiday weekend.

The campaign includes the following #SunSmart videos:

Follow the Healthy Ireland SunSmart steps to protect your skin:

  • Slip on clothing that covers your skin such as, long sleeves, collared t-shirts.
  • Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen SPF minimum 30+ for adults and 50+ for children with high UVA protection and water-resistant. Reapply regularly.
  • Slap on a wide brimmed hat.
  • Seek Shade – Sit in the cover of trees to avoid direct sunlight. Use a sunshade on your buggy or pram. Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight.
  • Slide on wraparound sunglasses.

Dr McCarthy says, “We are encouraging everyone to take action to enjoy the sun safely and reduce their risk of skin cancer. We want everyone to know they can reduce their skin cancer risk by following the simple Healthy Ireland SunSmart Steps.” 

Minister Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy says, “This past year has seen our resilience tested like never before, and we know that getting outside and getting active is a key to building resilience and taking care of our physical and mental wellbeing, but it is also very important that we take the time to protect our skin.

“Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Ireland, but most skin cancers can be prevented. This Healthy Ireland SunSmart campaign aims to get us into the habit of protecting our skin every day from April to September, even when it's cloudy. At this time of the year, the UV radiation levels are high and can damage your skin even on a cooler day so we need to be SunSmart and follow the 5S's to protect our skin."

For more information and to learn how to protect yourself and your family this summer visit the SunSmart hub at www.hse.ie/sunsmart and check out #SunSmart on social media.

Last updated on: 04 / 06 / 2021