Confused about the UV index?

What is the Global Solar UV index?
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a component of sunlight. The Global Solar UV index is a scale that was developed by the World Health Organisation which measures the UV radiation level at the surface of the Earth, and gives an indication of the potential for skin damage.

Overexposure to UV radiation can cause sunburn, skin and eye damage (including cataracts) and skin cancer. The UV index ranges from zero upwards – the higher the UV index, the greater the risk.

UV radiation levels are influenced by many factors, including: your location (latitude and altitude), time of day, time of year, cloud cover and reflection. UV radiation cannot be seen or felt (infrared radiation causes heat, not UV) so you need to defend yourself against overexposure.

Know the numbers: UV 3+
When the UV index is 3 (moderate) or above, you need to protect your skin. The higher the level of UV, the greater the risk of getting sunburnt and skin cancer. So when the UV index is 3+, think sun protection – remember the 5 ‘Ss’ of sun safety:

  • Slip on a t-shirt with a collar.
  • Slop on broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30+, with high UVA protection, and water resistant if you intend to swim.
  • Slip on a hat with a wide brim.
  • Slide on sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Seek shade – particularly between 11am – 3pm, when UV rays are strongest.

Home or abroad
In Ireland, make sun protection part of your daily routine particularly from the end of March – September, when the intensity of sunburn producing UV radiation is greatest. But remember, whether at home or abroad, if the UV index is 3 or above, protection is required.

During the summer months, Met Éireann report daily maximum UV index values for Ulster, Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Dublin.

We want everyone in Ireland to learn to Protect & Inspect their skin! Download our short guide, written with hospital-based dermatologists, to checking your skin.   

Melanoma is on the rise in Ireland: see the facts in these info-graphics – Melanoma Skin Cancer and Solar UV Radiation


Click for more about Protect & Inspect!