HSE National Cancer Control Programme and Healthy Ireland urge people to be SunSmart and protect your skin when outdoors

 Protect your skin as temperatures expected to rise this weekend 

 As part of the annual SunSmart campaign which runs from April to September annually the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and Healthy Ireland are reminding people to be prepared and protect themselves from the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays as temperatures look set to rise this weekend.

It is so important for physical and mental health to enjoy time outdoors but we should do so while also protecting skin from UV radiation to reduce the risk of our most common cancer.

Each year almost 13,000 people in Ireland are diagnosed with skin cancer in Ireland. The number of people diagnosed with skin cancer is projected to double by 2045. However, the majority of cases can be prevented by following skin protection behaviours.

While skin cancer rates are rising in Ireland, particularly in females, most cases could be prevented by wearing sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, limiting time spent in the sun and wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen remains the most frequently used sun protection measure among the Irish population but it should be the last line of defence. Following SunSmart advice will reduce UV exposure and the risk of sunburn.

UV radiation from the sun causes the DNA damage in our skin which can lead to skin cancer. UV is usually strongest between 11am and 3pm from April to September in Ireland, even when it’s cloudy.

Follow the SunSmart 5S’s of Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide, to make sure you are prepared and protected:

  • Slip on clothing: Cover skin as much as possible, wear long sleeves, collared t-shirts, clothes made from close-woven material that does not allow sunlight through.
  • Slop on broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children, with high UVA protection and water-resistant. Reapply regularly. No sunscreen can provide 100% protection, it should be used alongside other protective measures such as clothing and shade.
  • Slap on a wide-brimmed hat: Protect your face, ears and neck.
  • 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 sunglasses: Guard your eyes against harm by wearing sunglasses with UV protection.

And remember, do not deliberately try to get a suntan. Avoid getting a sunburn. Never use a sunbed.

Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE NCCP says: “With the sunny weather forecast for this weekend, people will have more opportunity to enjoy getting outside. It is important to remember the sun isn't only strong abroad. It can be strong enough in Ireland to damage your skin even in April and is strongest during the middle of the day, typically between 11am to 3pm. We want to remind everyone to enjoy the sun safely by following the SunSmart 5S’s, to protect their skin and reduce their risk of skin cancer.”

For more information please see the SunSmart hub at www.hse.ie/SunSmart and check out #SunSmart on social media.

Last updated on: 12 / 05 / 2023