Skin Cancer

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Solar UV Index

The solar index tells us how much UV radiation is reaching us from the sun each day. During the summer our weather forecasters use it 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 blue through to red depending on how high the risk is.

Solar Index Table

The solar index was created by the World Health Organisation and has a scale of 0 – 20, but in NI and Europe it rarely rises above 10. It is a much more accurate way of determining your risk of burning than knowing the time of day or the time of year.

The solar index forecasts include the effects of:

  • The position of the sun in the sky
  • Cloud cover
  • The amount of ozone in the stratosphere

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