A fun day at the beach means plenty of sun (hopefully!) which naturally gives your body vitamin D. But excessive and prolonged sun exposure can cause sunburn, skin damage, premature skin aging and skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, according to the Irish Cancer Society. Skin cancer affects both men and women, and periods of sunburn, use of sunbeds and family history of skin cancer all increase the risk. Some people are at a greater risk because they have a lot of moles, especially if any previous moles were reported as abnormal.

We’ve gathered some of the top tips for staying safe in the sun from the Irish Cancer Society – and would encourage you to log on to their website where you’ll find a wealth of information.

To enjoy the sunshine in a safer way, take the right precautions to avoid these hazards.

1.    Beware UV: Spend time in the shade if your shadow is shorter than you. 
If your shadow is shorter than you are, then the sun is strong. During the Irish summer, the sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm. Most types of skin cancer are caused by UV radiation – you can find out more about UV rays, including popular myths, on the Irish Cancer Society Website.

2.    Wear a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses when the sun's strong.
Wide brimmed hats are best. A wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved top or maxi dress will not only help protect your skin but are also the height of summer style!

3.    The Irish Cancer Society recommends you use at least factor 15 sunscreen with a high star rating but the higher the factor the better. 
Sunscreen rubs off easily if you sweat, swim or change clothes. So whether you're in Ireland or abroad, when the sun is strong remember to apply generously and reapply regularly. (Source: www.cancer.ie, July 2015).

4.    Remember: Don't get caught out at home.
Some days it mightn’t seem to be the case, but the sun can be strong here in Ireland as well as abroad, so it's not just when you're on holiday that you need to think about protecting your skin in the sun. And you don't need to be sunbathing to get sunburn; plenty of people get sunburn when out and about playing sport, shopping or gardening.

5.    Protect your kids.
Young skin is delicate and easily sunburnt. Make sure your children are wearing t-shirts and wide-brimmed hats when out in strong sun and cover any exposed areas with sunscreen.  It's a good idea to encourage them to have breaks in the shade for a game or a cool drink, particularly between 11am and 3pm (in the Irish summer) when the sun is usually strongest. 
Unfortunately skin cancer is Ireland’s most prevalent type of cancer, and 9 out of every 10 cases are caused by UV rays. The key to early detection is being aware of what lumps and bumps are on your own skin, and looking out for any change, particularly new lesions, or a change of size, shape or colour in an existing mole?