Summer Health

Know your skin type 

​This week marks the start of Sun Awareness Week  The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland warned yesterday (May 6), that half the population is unaware of their own skin type, which may affect their behaviour and put them at risk of cancer.

Get to know your skin - decide what skin type you have generally the fairer you are the more cautious you need to be in the sun. Go to the sunsmart website for more information about skin types.

Belfast Trust Staff, PHA and Cancer Focus will have a stand at the Balmoral Show in Belfast from May 15 to 17 with advice about care in the sun. For further information click on

Your risk of developing skin cancer can be reduced and when detected on time, skin cancers are usually treatable.

Care in the Sun

During the summer months we need to be particularly aware of the sun and the damaging effects it can have on our skin and health.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Northern Ireland and accounts for 28% of all cancers diagnosed.

Too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer.


  • You don’t need to be abroad to burn in the sun
  • You don’t need to be sunbathing to damage skin or develop skin cancer
  • Over exposure to Ultraviolet radiation can cause serious skin damage over time.

Further Information

New research from the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) shows that 50% of the UK population thinks that their skin is darker than it actually is, which may mean they don’t take enough care in the sun.

Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, PHA, said: “The research showed that about half of people surveyed correctly identified their own skin type. Almost half, however, thought their skin was darker and would tan more easily than is actually the case. Uncertainty about skin type may mean that people will be complacent when it comes to covering up to protect against sun damage.

“The number of cases of malignant melanoma in Northern Ireland has almost trebled in the past 25 years. People need to be aware that the best way to protect against malignant melanoma is avoid the sun, cover up or apply sunscreen no matter what their skin type.”

Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Co-ordinator, Cancer Focus, said: “The survey results reflect findings from previous studies in Northern Ireland which showed our poor skin type awareness and worrying trends in our attitude to tanning and the risks of skin cancer.”

Go to the sunsmart website for more information about skin types