Here in NI, it feels like it’s such a rare occasion for us to get ‘good weather’, so when we do get to see the sunshine, either at home in NI or when we travel, there is no doubt getting out into the sunshine always feels great.

Sunshine and Sunbeds both expose you to UV radiation and increase your risk of skin cancer. Each time you burn or tan your skin you increase your risk of skin cancer. Spending long times in the sun will not increase your Vitamin D levels as the body can only absorb a limited amount of vitamin D over a long period of time. It is estimated that spending 15 minutes outdoors in Northern Ireland with exposed arms and legs will provide you with adequate Vitamin D. However you should still protect your skin with a broad spectrum sun cream if you are concerned about Vitamin D levels we would recommend having your levels checked. For more info about vitamin D and sunshine, click here.

Know your skin type

Generally the paler your skin the more likely you are to get sunburnt and the higher the risk of skin cancer.  That’s not to say if you have naturally dark skin you won’t get skin cancer, you’re just less likely. Remember you should never let your skin burn in the sun regardless of skin type.

Protect your skin
Avoid sitting in direct sunlight, seek the shade cover up with protective clothing, hat, sun glasses and use a broad spectrum of sun cream minimum SPF30 and avoid burning and tanning.
Wear clothes that protect you from the sun including wide brimmed hats, t-shirts and good quality sunglasses.
Choose sun cream that has good ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. Both UVA and UVB rays emitted from the sun can damage your skin. The sun protection factor (SPF) on sun cream indicates how effective it is at protecting your skin against UVB rays. The star rating on sun cream indicates how effective it is at protecting your skin against UVA rays (1-5 stars). So choose a sun cream with a high SPF (30 or above) and a high star rating (at least 4-5 stars) and reapply frequently (every 2 hours) and after swimming, sweating or towel drying. Always check both the stars and SPF on sun cream before buying!

Apply sun cream 30 minutes before going out. Reapply after swimming and cover up with protective clothing and reapply sun cream to exposed skin every 2 hours.

Make sure your sun cream is not past its expiry date - once a sun cream expires, it loses its strength and becomes less effective at blocking out UV rays.
Sunbeds highly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. They produce UV rays which can be over 10 times the strength of the sun exposing your skin to large doses of ultraviolet light.

According to Department of Health for Northern Ireland “people who start using sunbeds before the age of 35 have a 75 per cent increased risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.”

Don’t just think of sunbeds though - The UV nail lamps used to cure some gel manicures produce UV light and repeated exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer! Before getting a gel manicure check if your salon uses UV or LED lamps to cure their gel manicures. If they are UV radiating lamps, avoid this practice. (If you have a black vertical line on your nail from running from the nail bed to the tip of the nail get it checked out with your GP or a dermatologist as this could be a potential sign of skin cancer.)

Early detection

Self-check your skin once a month and be aware of signs and symptoms of skin cancer.  

**Remember there is no healthy way to get a tan.  Tan is DAMAGE.**

Useful Links

Skin Cancer Foundation

Action Cancers’ Safe Sun campaign is proudly supported by Gordons Chemists.