With temperatures on the rise, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland say people should enjoy the good weather – but urge them to take care in the sun.
PHA and Cancer Focus NI are also reminding people that the UV Index is a good guide to how strong the sun is. When the UV index is three or greater, we need to take steps to protect our skin from over-exposure to UV rays from the sun.
From April to September in Northern Ireland, the UV index reaches this level on most days, even on breezy or cloudy days, especially around the middle of the day from 11am to 3pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Denise McCallion, Senior Health Improvement Officer at the PHA, says: “Being active and having fun outside is good for our health. It improves our moods, allows us to get more active outdoors and provides vitamin D.
“However, the sun can cause permanent damage to our skin if we don’t take precautions. Just one episode of sunburn, especially in childhood, doubles the lifetime risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.”
She adds: “Everyone is at risk of UV damage, but certain groups are particularly at risk, including those with fair hair and skin, babies and children, outdoor workers and people with a family history of skin cancer. It is vitally important that all of us take the necessary steps to protect ourselves in the sun and actively reduce the risks of skin cancer.”
Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Coordinator at Cancer Focus NI, said: “The UV index is a measure of the level of ultra violet radiation reaching us from the sun each day. We can use it to indicate how quickly our skin and eyes can be damaged by the sun when we are spending time outdoors.
“Greater awareness of the UV index and the need for sun safety, even in our changeable climate, will help you protect your skin and allow you to have fun in the sun.”
To find out more about the UV index and how it helps you know when to protect your skin visit www.careinthesun.org/skin-cancer/solar-uv-index/
You can access UV index readings wherever you are via the British Association of Dermatologist’s World UV App http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/sun-awareness-campaign/world-uv-app
If you are concerned about skin cancer you can call the Cancer Focus NI free information and support NurseLine on 0800 783 3339 or email one of the charity’s nurses on firstname.lastname@example.org