Be safe in the sun

Older man looking at a field wearing a hat

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in men in Ireland. 1 in every 8 men will get skin cancer in their lifetime.

UV radiation from the sun’s rays or sunbeds cause:

But the good news is that while it is the most common cancer, it is also one of the most preventable.

Almost all cases are caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun and can be prevented. You don’t have to get sunburnt to get skin cancer (but it does help).

The reality is that skin cancer can be caused by regular exposure to the sun over a long period of time. And that includes Irish weather. Getting a little bit of sun every day can add up without you realising it.

Even on cool cloudy days the level of UV radiation can be high enough to damage your skin cells. This damage can lead to skin cancer.

If you spend time outdoors, be sensible. Follow the SunSmart Code and not just on our rare sunny days. The code includes covering up, seeking shade, the use of sunglasses and wearing sunscreen.

Sporting events

Many sports such as hurling, football, tennis, golf, surfing and triathlons are most popular between April and September when UV levels are higher.

It is easy to get sun damage (sunburn and tanning) during sporting and outdoor events.

Whether participating in sport or just watching a game, it is important to follow the SunSmart Code especially when you are spending hours outside in the sun.

To find out how SunSmart you need to be before spending time outdoors, see the UV Index. The UV Index tells you how strong the UV radiation level is on any given day. By finding out what the UV Index is in your area you can make sure to take whatever action is needed to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Who needs to take extra care?

All men are at risk of getting skin cancer, but you need to take extra care if you have:

  • Pale or freckled skin that does not tan or burns before it tans.
  • Naturally red or fair hair.
  • Blue, green or grey eyes.
  • A large number of moles.
  • A history of sunburn or if you burn easily.

For more information, read our section on what increases your risk of skin cancer.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Tuesday, June 6, 2017