Press release

Be SunSmart and protect your skin as Met Éireann forecasts continued sunshine

Published: 6 September 2023

Updated: 29 January 2024

Be SunSmart and protect your skin as Met Éireann forecasts continued spells of sunshine over the coming days and into the weekend. We encourage parents/guardians, students and teachers to be SunSmart as the new school year gets off to a sunny start.

The HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and Healthy Ireland are reminding people of the importance of protecting skin while enjoying the outdoors in the sun over the coming days.  

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in Ireland and the number of cases are set to almost double by 2045. The good news is that the majority of these cases could be prevented by protecting ourselves from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. This is particularly important for children and young people whose skin is more vulnerable to damage from UV and this damage is cumulative, adding up over a lifetime.

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.
  • A 2019 study reported that nearly 90% of 10 to 17 year olds in Ireland said they have experienced sunburn in their lifetime.
  • Around 74% said they experienced sunburn at least once during the past year.

Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE NCCP, says:

“With the warm weather forecast, people will have more opportunity to get outside and enjoy it. It is important to remember the sun isn't only strong abroad. It can be strong enough in Ireland to damage your skin and is strongest during the middle of the day, typically between 11am to 3pm, even through to the end of September.

We want to remind everyone to be prepared and enjoy the outdoors safely by following the SunSmart 5S’s, to protect their skin and reduce their risk of skin cancer.”

Remember the SunSmart 5 S’s, even when it’s cloudy:

  • 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 protection) 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.

For more information please see the SunSmart hub and check out #SunSmart on social media.

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