Be ‘SunSmart’ – protects children’s skin over the summer



HSE warns that children’s skin is very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) radiation

When the summer vacation begins for school children, the HSE National Cancer Control Program, in collaboration with Healthy Ireland and cross-industry partners, is reminding parents and caregivers to be SunSmart and protect children’s skin during the summer vacation.

Playing and spending time outdoors is great for kids. Protecting children’s skin from the sun outside reduces the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Dr. Triona McCarthy, Public Health Medicine Advisor, HSE National Cancer Control Program, says, “Children’s skin is very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which causes sunburn. Sunburn in childhood increases the risk of developing skin cancer in adulthood. If your child is badly sunburned more than three times before the age of 20, they will more than double their adult skin cancer risk. However, a recent report from the Irish Public Health Institute found that nearly 90 percent of 10-17 year olds said they had sunburn in their lifetime. “

In Ireland, UV radiation from the sun is strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from April to September, even when it is cloudy.

Protect yourself and your children by integrating SunSmart into your everyday life from April to September, even when it is cloudy:

• Wear skin-covering clothing on children, e.g. B. long sleeves, t-shirts with collars;

• Apply sunscreen on exposed areas, with a factor of 50+ for children;

• Put on a wide-brimmed hat;

• Find shade – Sit in the shade of trees to avoid direct sunlight and use a parasol for your buggy or stroller. Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight.

• Put on sunglasses to protect your eyes

Dr. McCarthy also says, “It is better to protect babies up to 6 months from sunlight by using shade and clothing rather than sunscreen. You may choose to use sunscreen on small parts of your baby’s skin at times. If so, choose Use a delicate sunscreen made especially for babies or toddlers. For children 1 and under, it is best to keep them in the shade and wear skin-covering clothing when outdoors. “

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, with over 13,000 cancers diagnosed annually, but it can largely be prevented by protecting the skin from UV rays from the sun or from artificial sources such as tanning beds. The National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022 provides information on how we are working to reduce skin cancer in Ireland.

For more information on protecting children’s skin, see Healthy Ireland’s SunSmart resources on the SunSmart hub at



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