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Golfer Padraig Harrington supports SunSmart campaign

As we head into the June bank holiday weekend, the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and Healthy Ireland are raising 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.

Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton, Dr Triona McCarthy from HSE’s NCCP and professional golfer Padraig Harrington, are highlighting the many ways in which people can be SunSmart this summer.

Spending time outdoors is good for everyone as it can improve overall health and wellbeing. But it is important to protect our skin when outside in the sun. If you’re spending the long weekend out in the sunshine, be prepared and be SunSmart.

Most people think they don’t need to take care of their skin when in Ireland but with almost 13,000 cases diagnosed annually, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in this country.

Even on cloudy days, from April to September, ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels in Ireland can be high enough to damage skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy says, “Taking care of your skin in the sun is not just for when you’re going abroad, the sun can be strong enough to burn in Ireland from April to September, so it’s important that people are protecting themselves properly both at home and abroad. The annual SunSmart campaign outlines the steps we can all take to protect skin from the sun and reduce the risk of skin cancer”.

Professional Irish golfer, Padraig Harrington says, “I travel the world playing tournament golf, which can mean many hours in the sun. Too much sun exposure can lead to many problems down the road as it is difficult to repair early skin damage and as a result, a few years ago I had a few basal cell carcinomas, a form of non-melanoma skin cancer removed from my face. Looking back I wish I had worn hats and applied sunscreen more frequently as a teenager. To reduce the risk, we can all protect our skin and enjoy the outdoors by following the simple SunSmart 5 S’s, monitor changes to our skin and see a doctor as soon as they occur.”

Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE NCCP says, “No sunscreen can provide 100% protection so it is important to use shade, clothes and sunglasses too. In this way you get the best possible protection from UV damage. In Ireland, make sun protection part of your daily routine particularly from April-September, even when it is cloudy. Stay safe by limiting time in the midday sun when UV is strongest, typically between the hours of 11:00am-3:00pm.”

Protect your skin by following the SunSmart 5 S’s of Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide:
  • Slip on clothing: Cover skin as much as possible, wear long sleeves, collared t-shirts.
  • 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.

And remember, do not deliberately try to get a suntan. Avoid getting a sunburn. Never use a sunbed.

To encourage people to be SunSmart and protect their skin, whether at home or abroad, the HSE and Healthy Ireland launches the SunSmart radio campaign this June bank holiday weekend.

For more information and to learn how to protect yourself and your family this summer visit the SunSmart hub and check out #SunSmart on social media.