Press release

HSE National Cancer Control Programme and Healthy Ireland launch annual SunSmart campaign

Published: 11 April 2024

Updated: 12 April 2024

Be SunSmart this summer

Make sun protection part of your daily routine to reduce risk of skin cancer

As summer approaches, the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and Healthy Ireland urge people to be SunSmart and protect your skin when outdoors from April to September, even on cloudy days.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, with over 11,000 cases annually. The number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer in Ireland is rising rapidly. Yet in most cases, skin cancers could be prevented by protecting skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Protecting skin from the sunny whether at home or abroad can reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Dr Breeda Neville, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE NCCP, says:

“Make sun protection part of your daily routine, especially from April to September, even when it is cloudy. UV radiation can't be seen or felt and can be harmful on warm, sunny days as well as on cool, cloudy days. We want to remind everyone that it’s easy to enjoy the sun safely by following the SunSmart 5S’s to mind their skin and reduce their risk of skin cancer.”

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

Protect your skin by following the SunSmart 5S’s of Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide:

  • 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 is 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 visit the SunSmart hub at and check out #SunSmart on social media.

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