600,000 Aussies get burnt every weekend.
2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70.
In 2011, 2087 people died from skin cancer in Australia.
Will you be a statistic?
It is important to consider annual skin checks with your dermatologist if you feel you are at risk of developing skin cancer. A consultation will involve gauging your risk of skin cancer, thoroughly checking your skin and moles, advice on sun protection and will provide practical ways to detect and treat skin cancer early.
Why do we need to protect our skin?
We are a nation that loves the outdoors and being active and that is a positive thing. Due to the Earth’s axis tilt however, Australia and New Zealand are closer to the sun than Northern Hemisphere countries, resulting in higher sunlight exposure.
The main modifiable risk factor for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers is UV light exposure. Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence and mortality (death) of melanoma. Early life exposure and the number of blistering sunburns are especially important in development of melanoma.
Skin cancer represents the most costly cancer burden on our public health system. While the campaign against tanning beds was successful with an outright ban across all Australian states except Western Australia from January 1st 2015, other aspects of the fight against skin cancer are still lagging. 23% of Aussies still get sunburned during summer weekends and nearly 40% of us still actively try to get a tan.
Protecting from the sun helps prevent
- Skin cancers
- Sun damage-induced sun spots
- Sun – induced pigmentation
- Premature skin aging – sunscreen prevents direct DNA damage caused by UVA and UVB exposure
What are the main reasons people have for not using sunscreen?
- “It doesn’t look good; it gives me a rash”. Studies have shown that appearance was a major reason for avoiding sunscreen. Many formulas are now on the market that look and feel good on the skin. Many are hypoallergenic, moisturising and tinted for clean, matt finish
- “Use of sunscreen will cause vitamin D deficiency.” It is important to remember that reviews in scientific studies show that topical sunscreen does not cause sub-normal vitamin D levels. Just three minutes of exposure on the face, neck and hands per day is sufficient to maintain normal vitamin D levels. Consider dietary supplements rather than excessive UV exposure to attain vitamin D
- “Sunscreen contains nanoparticles white are dangerous to my health.” Topical sunscreen have not been associated with systemic toxicity in humans. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration states that nanoparticles are not a risk to health.
- Download a sun protection phone app and make sure you apply sunscreen whenever the UV levels are >3. It is not the temperature or sun that burns the skin – it is the UV level! Don’t get caught out on cloudy or cooler days.
- Sunscreen should be applied as a thin layer on the skin 15-30mins prior to sun exposure and one teaspoonfor each area of the body should be used for optimum performance
- Reapply just prior to exposure and approximately ever 2 hours after that
- Seek shade especially in between the hours of 11-4pm
- Don’t forget your other fashion accessories – wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing.
- Most people get burned during home-based activities like gardening. Don’t get caught out!
- Practice “Safe Sun” –Remember your hat, sunglasses, long-sleeves and pants, sunscreen and seek shade
- Get into a sun protection routine with your children because they form habits in early life and this is a critical time to decrease melanoma risk
- Cosmetic products claiming SPF, such as moisturisers should be considered secondary sunscreens. Sun protection is not their primary purpose
- It’s never too late to start protecting