Leading into Summer, it’s almost time for beach days, outdoor picnics, and to get out of the gym and exercising outdoors again. And with this comes the time to pull out the sun hats, update your sunscreen and sort out your activewear.
Now is also a good time to think about booking in for a skin check. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Being SunSmart is a simple and effective way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, and regular skin checks are imperative to catch anything early.
Australia experiences high levels of UV radiation as we are close to the equator and have many clear, blue-sky days. The Earth’s orbit also brings us closer to the sun in summertime than countries in the northern hemisphere during summer. Exposure to UV radiation increases our skin cancer risk.
2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, with skin cancer causing more deaths than transport accidents in Australia. High sun and UV exposure in the first 10 years of life more than doubles melanoma risk, while outdoor workers receive between five to ten times more UV exposure yearly than indoor worker.
The Cancer Council provides guidance on how much sun you should be getting, and how to protect from too much sun exposure.
For the best protection they recommend:
- Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
- Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
- Slap on a hat- broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
- Seek shade
- Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.
Try to develop a regular habit of checking your skin all over for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles. Get to know your skin and what is normal for you, this way you’ll more likely notice any changes.
In addition to self-checking regularly you should have a professional skin check once a year. Ensure you also book in with your doctor if anything suspicious appears, in addition to having your regular checks.
Why do I need to see a Doctor for a skin check?
Your GP, Skin Check Clinic or Dermatologist can perform for a professional and thorough skin check for you. Doctors use a number of tools to examine and check the skin thoroughly, beyond what the naked eye can see. Your doctor can also assess your level of risk for skin cancer and provide advice on early detection.
The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated the better your change of avoiding surgery, or worse. Melanomas that are detected and treated early are cured in 90% of cases.
The Cancer Council
The cancer council website is a great resource for information about skin cancers, sun safety and prevention. This link provides information on performing self-skin checks and what signs to look out for.