Farm Ireland
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Sunday 19 November 2017

'If you've cows to be milking, you're not going to be worrying about sun cream' - Skin charity issues warning about 'farmer's tan'

Farmer's tan stock photo Photo: Getty
Farmer's tan stock photo Photo: Getty
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Farmers across Ireland are being urged to take extra precautions against skin cancer as a 'farmer's tan' could have fatal consequences.

As thousands of farmers descend onto the Ploughing Championships, the Irish Skin Foundation are warning farmers about skin cancer.

According to the skin charity, farmers receive five to ten times more UV exposure than indoor workers.

Overexposure to UV radiation can cause sunburn, skin and eye damage as well as skin cancer.

At the launch of the Ploughing Championships, the Irish Skin Foundation says that farmers should take precautions such as wearing suncream every day, wearing protective clothing at all times and wearing a hat.

Farm Ireland took to the streets at the Ploughing to ask Irish farmers about their relationship with the sun.

Ernest Tanner, from Co Cork said he was aware that farmers are more at risk but he "didn't think it was that high".

"I don't take any precautions. I don't wear sunscreen unless on a real hot day. I don't think it's realistic that farmers will put on suncream every morning. Then again I have melanomas on my back and I have to keep them covered. I'll never go shirtless anymore, that used to be a big thing but now I'd cover myself more."

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Tom Norris from Co Carlow said he's aware of the damage UV rays can cause but he doesn't have time in the morning to take precautions.

"I'm aware of it but I don't do anything about it. I just get up in the morning and do my job. I don't be thinking about it when I get up, but I know I should be. I just put it on the long finger.

"It's nothing to do with living in a cooler climate. It's not worth getting skin cancer. We as farmers should be taking more action to prevent skin cancer. It still easier to get burnt," Tom told Farm Ireland.

"If you've cows to be milking, you're not going to be worrying about sun cream," his friend added.

John O'Neill (80) from Malin Head has been working as a farmer all of his life.

"I know about taking precautions. I've listened to advice and I've read many articles about it. When I go onto the farm I take precautions like wearing a hat. I'd seldom ever undress to my waist.

"I do get the farmer's tan on my arms. I don't think it's dangerous because you get used to that. I think your body would be different because you see a lot of farmers have little moles on their bodies. That's when it gets dangerous."

John said that he puts on suncream all the time because his wife reminds him on a sunny day.

"She makes sure I'm ok for the sun. It's the bachelor farmers that are in bother because they don't have a wife to remind them. Advice means a lot. We need to educate ourselves to the dangers. People don't bother because they think cancer will never hit them."

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