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12th Aug 2022

Dr Laura Lenihan shares her expert advice on how to stay safe in the sun

Melissa Carton

Important to know.

With record breaking temperatures forecasted for this week in Ireland, and some spots expecting to see a 27 degree scorcher today, staying sun-safe is as important as ever.

With that in mind we spoke to GP Dr Laura Lenihan on how to stay safe in the sun this weekend.

The forecasted UV index in Ireland this weekend  is classified as “HIGH”.


GP Dr Laura Lenihan explains exactly what UV rays are, the difference between UVA and UVB and exactly why we need to be protecting our skin from these harmful rays:

“UV rays from the sun come in two major forms – UVA rays which cause Ageing of the skin and UVB rays which cause Burning of the skin. UVB rays are present during the months of April to October and are the ones we tend to worry about most, as they cause the skin to burn, however UVA rays are present year-round and cause ageing of the skin. Furthermore, UVA rays can pass through window glass, whereas UVB rays are blocked by window glass. Both types can cause DNA damage leading to skin cancer. That’s why it is encouraged to use of a broad-spectrum SPF that protects against UVB and UVA rays every day.

Educate yourself on the risks. Much like you check the weather, you can check the UV index daily as well. The higher the UV index, the more dangerous the sun’s rays are. UV index ranges from zero upwards, the higher the number the more dangerous the suns ray are. When above 3, protection is required.”

With the forecasted heatwave lasting until next week, why not use this as a time to bring in some new habits for sun safety. To stay safe in the sun try following the five S’s of Sun Safety:

  1. Seek shade from the midday sun

  1. Slip on a broad brimmed hat

  1. Slide on a pair of sunglasses

  1. Slop on SPF

  1. Slip on a cotton cover up

“These rules apply to kids as well. Babies less than six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight at all. Invest in a UV protected tent for infants under 6 months and dress them in long sleeves, pants, and a wide brimmed hat. It’s really important to make sure they don’t get overheated and that they drink plenty of fluids.

For older children reapply a broad-spectrum water-resistant SPF 50 sunscreen, such as La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Dermo-Paediatrics Lotion SPF50+, every two hours to any skin not covered by protective clothing.”

“When applying SPF, it is important to ensure that you are using enough. Unfortunately, the average person uses about one third of the amount required, which means we don’t get enough SPF.

To cover the whole body most adults will require 2 tablespoons of SPF for optimal protection. Approx. 2 teaspoons are needed for optimal face & neck coverage, applied after moisturiser and before makeup.

Ideally SPF should be reapplied every two hours to ensure maximum protection.”