11th June 2018
Article from Kevin O’Hagan, the Irish Cancer Society’s cancer prevention manager, about how to protect your skin while on holiday:
. What are the key recommendations for people holidaying in the sun when it comes to skin protection?
"In the Irish Cancer Society, we promote the Sun Smart Code, which is basically a five-point plan."
"Firstly, we encourage people to wear protective clothing. So wearing a t-shirt with a collar, clothes with a close-weave material – something that the sun can’t easily penetrate, so a good, heavy cotton material.
"Secondly, wear a hat, which gives shade to your neck and ears. A wide-brimmed hat.
"Thirdly, wear sunscreen. We’d be encouraging people to wear an SPF of 30 or higher and one that has a UVA logo on it, which means that it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
"Fourthly, make sure to take shade. The most dangerous time is between 11am and 3pm as that’s when the UV rays are the strongest, so that’s the time to get under a tree or use an umbrella.
"The fifth and final point is to wear appropriate sunglasses and make sure that they give you good UV protection.
"We also encourage people to use the UV index when travelling and just be aware if there are high levels of UV in whatever part of the world they are travelling in.
"The UV index tells you how high UV is going to be on any given day, so there is a code there of one to 11 on the UV index. Anything above three or four means that you are at risk."
Use the UV Index this Summer
Are there any clothes that are particularly bad for protecting your skin?
"Anything that has a very loose-weave material, that you can almost see your hand right through it, UV rays can pass right through that.
"There’s a lot of clothes that are also being marketed now with UV protection in it that might be worth considering."
UV waves can easily pass through loose weave material
How do you know what SPF cream to use for your skin?
"Our research tells us that people don’t use enough sunscreen. They don’t put it on often enough. You should put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going out and reapply it every two hours.
"If you’re sweating or swimming you lose the effect of it very quickly, so we advise using 30SPF and above, and applying it properly, that’s a problem too, people tend not to apply it properly and forget parts like ears, necks and bald patches."
When it comes to children is there any specific advice for protecting their skin?
"Children’s skin is incredibly sensitive to be damaged by UV rays and clearly we know that your children’s skin can burn very easily and the tan and the sunburn can go away but the sun damage to your skin is permanent, so it’s particularly important to protect children.
"We say keep babies under six months in the shade, they shouldn’t be in the sun at all."
"You can keep older children safe by following the five-point code and also – where possible – to use child sunscreen. Children’s sunscreen is a higher factor – usually 50 or higher."