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It’s time to be SunSmart

While we couldn’t be considered a sunny country, even on dull days UV levels could still be high enough to cause damage, so it’s wise to get into the habit of protecting our skin every day from April to September, whatever the weather. This is advice from the Irish Cancer Society and their SunSmart code.

1 Seek some shade
Good shade can give up to 75% protection from UV rays. Good shade needs to protect from direct and indirect UV rays. If you are someone who sits at a window all day or drives a lot in the course of your day, you need to use clothes and sunscreen to protect your skin.

2 Slip on some clothes
Choose clothes that cover as much skin as possible. For example, wear a shirt with a collar, three-quarter length sleeves and three-quarter length trousers. Some fabrics give better UV protection than others. Linen, cotton and hemp let less UV rays through and dark clothes block more UV rays than light coloured clothes. Slap on a hat, but make sure it gives shade to the face, neck, head and ears. Some manufacturers produce clothes and hats especially treated to block UV rays from reaching the skin – labelled with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). You will notice these clothes particularly in beach wear for children. No UPF clothing will give 100% protection from UV rays and so need to be used with shade and sunscreen.

3 Wear sunglasses
Your eyes can be damaged by UV rays too. Eye damage from UV rays can start at an early age. For this reason it is a good idea to protect children’s eyes with sunglasses when they are old enough to wear them. Make sure the glasses fit well and that they are not a safety hazard. Toy sunglasses do not provide protection from UV rays. If a child refuses to wear sunglasses don’t forget that a broad-brimmed hat and shade will also give some protection.

When choosing your sunglasses: Go for wrap-around ones.Make sure they give UV protection. Check tags to make sure they give enough protection. Look out for: European Standard EN1836. British Standard BS 27241987.

4 Use sunscreen
When in Ireland wear sunscreen from April to September to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Use a ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB; – SPF minimum 30. Apply to dry skin 20 minutes before going outside. Be extra careful of those areas that do not get much sun, they will burn more easily. Reapply every two hours. Check the product's use-by date and store it below 30°C.

5 Know the UV index
When the UV Index is 3 or more you are at greater risk of skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. Get into the habit of checking the UV Index as a reminder of the need to be SunSmart every day from April to September.

Read more news stories from Rude Health Magazine here