Summer Health

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.

Heat Wave Advice Leaflets:

Please see information from DHSSPS and NI Direct about Looking After Yourself in Very Hot Weather

Did you know?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Northern Ireland and accounts for over 30% of all cancers diagnosed here - around 3,550* people develop it each year. While most skin cancers are not malignant, the most severe form, malignant melanoma, can be a potentially life threatening condition, particularly if not diagnosed in the early stages.

It is important to check skin regularly for suspected skin cancers. Check the whole body as skin cancer can occur in places not normally exposed to the sun. Be aware of any new spots, or existing spots that have changed colour, size or shape.

A skin cancer may be a spot that bleeds easily, never heals properly or is always itchy.

If an unusual spot is identified, show this to a doctor. Remember most skin cancers can be treated successfully if treated early.

You can get more information about taking care in the sun here.

Remember:

  • 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.

Children in the Sun

A few easy ways to protect your child 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, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 for UVB protection, and 4 stars for UVA protection.
  • Young children may require a much stronger SPF factor to protect their delicate skin. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun and re-apply at least every two hours.
  • Be sure to cover areas which are sometimes missed, such as the lips, ears, around the eyes, neck, scalp, backs of hands and tops of feet.
  • Sunscreen is not an alternative to avoiding the sun or covering up – it should be used in addition.
  • Sunscreens should not be used to allow your child to remain in the sun for longer – use them to provide your child with greater protection http://www.belfasttrust.hscni.net/livewell/2311.htm

In a recent statement Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with the PHA, said: “Being active outside during the summer is good for your health and we want families to enjoy being outdoors during periods of good weather. We do however need to be aware that the sun can cause permanent damage to your skin. One episode of sunburn, especially in childhood, doubles the lifetime risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

“Everyone is at risk of sun damage, but certain groups such as young children are particularly at risk. We therefore ask that parents take simple measures to protect their children when outdoors during the summer.”