Published: 02 June 2022

Enjoy the summer weather safely – Be SunSmart

The HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), in collaboration with Healthy Ireland and cross-sectoral partners are raising awareness of ways to prevent skin cancer as part of the annual SunSmart campaign. SunSmart outlines the steps you, your family, friends and colleagues can take to protect your skin from the sun and reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, accounting for almost 13,000 cases annually. The number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer in Ireland is rising rapidly. Yet, most cases of skin cancer can be prevented by protecting skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources such as sunbeds.

Protecting your skin from the sun, whether at home or abroad, can reduce your risk of skin cancer. Research has found that among the Irish population, the most commonly used form of sun protection is sunscreen. Sunscreen is an important sun protection measure, but should not be used as the first or only line of defence. It should be used in conjunction with other sun protection measures such as shade, protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and limiting time outdoors in the mid-day sun.

Follow the 5 S’s to keep safe in the sun

  • Slip on clothing that covers your skin, such as long sleeves, collared t-shirts
  • Slop on broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen on exposed areas, using factor 30+ for adults and 50+ for children with high UVA protection and water resistant. Reapply regularly.
  • Slap on a wide-brimmed hat
  • Seek shade - especially if outdoors between 11am and 3pm and always use a sunshade on a child’s buggy
  • Slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes

As well as the 5 S’s, it is important to remember:

  • In Ireland, the UV radiation levels are high 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 - 3pm
  • Do not deliberately try to get a suntan
  • Avoid getting a sunburn
  • Never use a sunbed

The UV index is an international standard measurement used by the World Health Organization. It measures the UV level at the surface of the Earth and gives an indication of the potential for skin damage. The higher the UV index, the higher the risk of skin and eye damage. When the UV index is 3 or above, you need to protect your skin and eyes by following the Healthy Ireland SunSmart 5 S’s.

Check the UV Index forecast at Met Éireann

Find more information on being SunSmart