We are all aware that skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed, with Australia and New Zealand having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. And while us Australians love the outdoors, especially the beaches, we sometimes still fail to be sun smart. While the sun is our main source of Vitamin D, don’t forget the sun also emits harmful Ultraviolet radiation.
Skin can burn in just 15 minutes in the summer sun and skin cancer is largely preventable so be sun smart this summer and protect yourself against sun damage by using a combination of these tips:
Slip on sun protective clothing
Choose clothing that:
- covers as much skin as possible eg. shirts with long sleeves and high necks/collars
- is made from close weave materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton and linen
- if used for swimming, is made from materials such as lycra, which stays sun protective when wet
Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
Make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum and water-resistant. Don’t use sunscreen to increase the amount of time you spend in the sun and always use with other forms of protection too. Apply sunscreen liberally to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours.
Slap on a hat
A broad-brimmed, legionnaire or bucket style hat provides good protection for the face, nose, neck and ears, which are common sites for skin cancers. Caps and visors do not provide enough protection. Choose a hat made with closely woven fabric – if you can see through it, UV radiation will get through. Hats may not protect you from reflected UV radiation, so also wear sunglasses and sunscreen.
Staying in the shade is an effective way to reduce sun exposure. Use trees or built shade structures, or bring your own! Whatever you use for shade, make sure it casts a dark shadow and use other protection (such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen) to avoid reflected UV radiation from nearby surfaces.
Slide on some sunglasses
Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat worn together can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98 per cent. Sunglasses should be worn outside during daylight hours. Choose close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067. Sunglasses are as important for children as they are for adults.