Many people will be looking forward to the bank holiday this weekend [Monday 29 May] and with good weather expected the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are urging people to have fun outdoors, but are reminding them to take care in the sun.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, explained: “Being active and having fun outside is good for our health. It improves our moods, allows us to get more active 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.”
Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Coordinator at Cancer Focus NI, said: “It is important to remember the care in the sun messages both at home and abroad. Everyone is at risk of sun 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 therefore vitally important that all of us take the necessary steps to protect ourselves in the sun and actively reduce the risks of skin cancer.”
There are a number of simple steps that will help protect against the sun’s harmful rays:
- Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest – generally 11am to 3pm.
- Cover up in the sun with a long sleeved t-shirt and a hat.
- Wear sunglasses with wraparound lenses or wide arms. Ensure they have a CE mark showing that they are made to an agreed European standard and also check for the British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1 to ensure that they give adequate protection from UV rays. Sunglasses should fit your face well and relatively snugly so that light doesn’t enter your eye from around the lens.
- Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 for UVB protection and 4-star for UVA protection. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun and re-apply at least every two hours.
For more information and advice on how to protect your skin visit www.careinthesun.org
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 firstname.lastname@example.org