Skin Cancer Prevention: SunSmart

Skin Cancer Prevention: SunSmart

SunSmart campaign 

As part of the SunSmart campaign the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme, in collaboration with Healthy Ireland and cross-sectoral partners are working together to support people to protect their skin from the sun. The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness of the steps you and your family can take to protect your skin from the sun and reduce your risk of skin cancer in Ireland. You can watch some of the SunSmart campaign videos by clicking on the links below

For more social media assets or information on raising awareness of the risks associated with exposure of unprotected skin to the sun contact

Be SunSmart and protect your skin from the sun

Most people living in Ireland have fair skin, the type which burns easily and tans poorly, so are at high risk of UV damage and skin cancer. Exposure to UV radiation during childhood is particularly harmful so protecting skin during childhood is extremely important.

Know the UV index: When the UV index is 3 or above you need to protect your skin. In Ireland, the UV index is usually 3 or above from April to September, even when it is cloudy. Stay safe by limiting time in the sun when UV is strongest, typically between the hours of 11am to 3pm. Check the UV index on the Met Eireann website

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.

Do not deliberately try to get a suntan. Avoid getting a sunburn. Never use a sunbed.

SunSmart kit

Have a bag at home near the door ready to protect you skin from the sun before you head out in the sun. Make sure to include;

  • Clothing that covers your skin.
  • A wide-brimmed hat.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen of at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children

Skin protection for children

Playing and spending time outdoors is good for your child. But it is important to protect their skin when outside in the sun.

  • For children up to 1 year old, it is best to keep them in the shade and wear clothing that covers their skin when outdoors.
  • It is better to protect babies up to 6 months old from sunlight by using shade and clothing rather than sunscreen. You may choose to use sunscreen sometimes on small parts of your baby’s skin. If you do, choose a sunscreen that is for babies such as sensitive or toddler sunscreen.
  • Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a part of sunlight. It can damage the skin and increase risk of skin cancer.
  • Children’s skin is very sensitive to UV from the sun. Sunburn during childhood increases the risk of getting skin cancer as an adult. If your child is badly sunburned more than 3 times before the age of 20, they more than double their risk of skin cancer as an adult.
  • In Ireland, UV from the sun is strongest from April to September between 11am-3pm, even when it is cloudy. 
  • Protect yourself and your children by being SunSmart as part of your daily routine from April – September.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, yet is largely preventable by protecting skin from ultraviolet radiation from the sun or artificial sources.  The National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022 provides information about how we are working to reduce skin cancer in Ireland.  Find the Healthy Ireland SunSmart resources below for your use to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

SunSmart kids resources

SunSmart outdoor workers resources

Outdoor workers have been identified as a high-risk group for the development of skin cancer as they spend long periods outdoors. The below resources were developed for employers of outdoor workers to deliver a focused approach to support SunSmart awareness and behaviours among outdoor workers

SunSmart outdoor leisure resources

Those who pursue outdoor sport and leisure are a high-risk group for the development of skin cancer, as they spend long periods of time outdoors. Outdoor sports and recreation organisations are encouraged to raise awareness of the risks of skin cancer and the simple SunSmart behaviours that can protect your skin.

SunSmart branding

Healthy Ireland SunSmart (hi SunSmart) is the brand identity of Ireland’s National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan. The hi SunSmart brand is to be used for increasing public awareness and engagement in skin protective behaviours, and always in settings that align with the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan.

SunSmart Research

National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022

For more information and to raise awareness of the risks associated with exposure of unprotected skin to the sun contact