With the spring sunshine encouraging us to be more active outdoors, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are reminding us to take care in the sun when out and about.
Cyclists, runners and walkers may not realise that while they are building up their heart, lungs and physical strength, they may also be building up their risk of skin damage from the sun.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: “Being active outdoors is good for our health, but despite our unpredictable weather, we are still exposed to significant levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun, even on cloudy or breezy days. The majority of our population has fair skin, which provides little protection against the sun, so even a small amount of sun can cause serious skin damage.”
UVR from the sun can cause skin cancer, aging, wrinkling and eye damage, so it is vital to take the necessary measures to protect yourself to safely enjoy sport and outdoor activities.
Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Coordinator, Cancer Focus said: “It is vitally important that people who spend a lot of time outdoors take the necessary steps to protect their skin from harmful UV rays and actively reduce the risks of skin cancer. If you are exercising outdoors this spring and summer, there are a number of simple steps you can take to protect yourself. By following these simple tips, we can all enjoy the benefits of healthier, more active and happier lifestyles in a safe way.”
Tips on how to stay safe in the sun:
- Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest – generally 11am to 3pm
- Cover up in the sun with a long sleeved T-shirt, sunglasses and a hat
- Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 for UVB protection and 4 star for UVA protection. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun and re-apply at least every two hours
- Be sure to cover areas which are sometimes missed, such as the lips, ears, around the eyes, neck, scalp and backs of hands
For further information on how to enjoy the sun safely visit www.careinthesun.org