With a high temperature warning in place for Ireland until Tuesday, are you really being sun safe?

According to the Irish Skin Foundation, there are common misconceptions around where and how skin damage or sun burn can occur.

Skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure can lead to skin cancer - the most common type of cancer in Ireland.

Dr Rupert Barry, a Consultant Dermatologist with the Irish Skin Foundation, said: "Skin cancer rates in Ireland are ever increasing. It is predicted that melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer rates will double if not triple by 2050. Skin cancer, although being by far and away the most common type of cancer, is also one of the easiest to prevent".

With the mercury rising over the next few says, we asked Dr Barry to bust some myths around sun protection.


"I tan so I'm grand in the sun."

Dr Barry said: "Fair-skinned people tend to underestimate how fair they actually are. If you're burning, you're getting sun damage. If you're tanning, you're getting sun damage. So, it's really important that we realise what skin type we are because that is what our inherent risk for skin cancer is".

"You can't get sunburnt on a cloudy day."

Dr Barry said: "Even through medium and low-level cloud, 90% of ultraviolet radiation from the sun streams through very efficiently and causes a sun burn".

"You can't get sunburnt through glass."

Dr Barry said: "This is a common misconception. That's why in Ireland and England more people get right-sided facial cancers, if they drive regularly, because of penetration of ultraviolet radiation through the side window of the car".

"Irish weather is so bad it can't cause any skin damage."

Dr Barry said: "Just because we have lower air temperatures, it does not mean that the ultraviolet radiation from the sun in Ireland is any less damaging than in a hotter climate. So, UV radiation from the sun causes skin damage and that is a risk for developing skin cancer. And that can happen in Ireland, if you're exposed, or anywhere else".

"Skin damage happens when you're older."

Dr Barry said: "Significant sun exposure and especially sun burn, in our childhood years is a very significant factor for future skin cancer development. And indeed, significant sun burn in our childhood can even double our melanoma risk in later life. So, remember, with the little ones, put them in sun protective clothing. In the midday, keep them in the shade. And make sure you apply lots of sunscreen SPF 50 with a four or five-star rating and reapply every two to three hours".

The Irish Skin Foundation advise to keep in mind the Sunsmart 5Ss and if you have any concerns about your skin during the heatwave you can contact their free Ask-a-nurse helpline on their website.