The latest news and information

SunSmart Kids

SunSmart Kids

March 30, 2021

Playing and spending time outdoors is a fun and vital part of childhood. Protecting children’s skin from the sun when outside reduces their risk of skin cancer in later life.

The Healthy Ireland SunSmart campaign encourages children and young people to protect their skin when outdoors by following the simple SunSmart 5 S’s from April to September, even when it is cloudy1.


Why do we need to protect children’s skin? 

Children and young people’s skin is very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun. Skin damage from UV increases the risk of skin cancer2.

Childhood sunburn and unprotected sun exposure increases the risk of developing skin cancers later in life. Severe sunburn during childhood (three or more instances before age 20) is associated with two to four time’s higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer in later life3.  The “Children’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation – a risk profile for future skin cancers in Ireland” report found nearly 90% of 10 to 17-year olds said they have experienced sunburn in their lifetime4. Yet skin damage from the sun can be prevented by following the simple Healthy Ireland SunSmart 5 S’s (Figure 1 ).


Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide! How we protect children’s skin

SunSmart Kids

Figure 1 Healthy Ireland SunSmart 5’Ss

It is better to protect babies up to 6 months old from the sun’s rays by using shade and clothing rather than sunscreen. You may choose to use sunscreen sometimes on small parts of baby’s skin. If you do, choose a sunscreen that is for babies such as sensitive or toddler sunscreen.

For children up to 1 year old, it is best to keep them in the shade and wear clothing that covers their skin when outdoors. 


How organisations that care for children and young people can be SunSmart

Healthy Ireland SunSmart have a range of resources and ideas for you

If you need additional information or support please contact



  1. Department of Health, 2019. Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022. Dublin: Department of Health. [Cited 11 March 2021]. Available from:
  2. Cancer Institute New South Wales. NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy 2012-15. New South Wales; 2012
  3. Markovic SN, Erickson LA, Rao RD, Malignant Melanoma in the 21st Century, Part 1: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, Screening, Prevention, and Diagnosis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007; 82 (3) 364-380
  4. Institute of Public Health (2020). Children’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation – a risk profile for future skin cancers in Ireland. [Cited 22 February 2021]. Available from:
Share share share share
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine