Skin Cancer

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Solar UV Index

The solar UV index tells us how much UV radiation is reaching us from the sun each day. During the spring and summer it is used to indicate how quickly we can burn when we are outside and how careful we need to be.

The index is represented by coloured triangles with a number in the centre. The colours range from green through to red or purple depending on how high the risk is.

Solar UV Index Table

The UV index was developed by the World Health Organisation and has a scale of 0 – 11+ . Our weather forecasts include reports on the level of risk. In NI the UV index is 3 or above on many days from April to September and it can reach 7 or 8 in mid-summer. It is a much more accurate way of determining your risk of burning than just relying on the air temperature.

The UV index forecasts include the effects of:

  • The position of the sun in the sky
  • The altitude
  • The time of day and time of year
  • Cloud cover and other weather conditions

So, what do the numbers mean?

The risk of damage to your skin can be assessed based on your skin type from the information below:

  • 1-2 Low Risk
    The sun is unlikely to burn you whatever your skin type
  • 3-4 Low-Medium Risk
    If you have fair or sensitive skin you are at medium risk and should use adequate sun protection. Children fall into this category
  • 5-6 High Risk
    Everyone needs to use sun protection if they are outside – the recommended SPF is 15+. People with black skin are at low risk
  • 7-10 High to Very High Risk
    Everyone should cover up as well as using sunscreen regardless of their skin colour
  • 10+ Very High Risk
    People with white skin are at a very high risk
    People with brown skin are at medium to high risk
    People with black skin are at medium risk