WAYS TO PROTECT SKIN
REMEMBER PREVENTION BEATS CURE. HERE’S FIVE TIPS ON WHAT TO DO
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. In Queensland, the levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) are high enough to damage skin during summer, spring, autumn and winter. The more sun exposure skin gets, the higher the risk of developing skin cancer. While long days spent at the beach clock up sun exposure, simple daily activities such as walking to the shops, taking the bins out or simply having your morning coffee in the sunshine all add up. Therefore it is vital to protect your skin every day. But here’s the good news, skin cancer is preventable. Here’s five tips to protect your skin… And please don’t be shy, spread this important information with your family, friends, neighbours and workmates because prevention beats cure.
Wear protective clothing
Protective clothing isn’t just about covering up as much skin as possible, it’s also about choosing fabrics with an ultraviolet protection factor of at least 30. Fabrics are assigned a UPF rating number and a protection category depending on how much UVR they block out. Here’s a few things to look out for when choosing your clothing for ultimate protection: Select fabrics with a tight weave such as cotton, polyester and linen as the closer the weave, the higher the UPF rating. In turn, stretchy material lowers the rating. Choose long-sleeved shirts with high necks/collars and long pants or skirts to covers as much skin as possible. Darker colours are generally better, while worn and faded clothing lose their ratings. Moisture lowers many fabrics’ UPF rating, so when choosing swimwear, opt for those made from Lycra which remain sun protective whilst wet.
Make sunscreen part of your morning routine. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher and apply to clean, dry skin 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or more regularly if swimming or sweating. Furthermore, don’t leave sunscreen in the car because excessive heat can reduce its effectiveness. Also, check the “use by” date because sunscreen may not be as effective if it has passed its expiry date.
Considering the face, nose, neck and ears see daylight every day, it’s no surprise these places are common spots for skin cancer to develop. Caps and visors do not provide enough protection on these vital areas, so choose a broad-brimmed or bucket-style hat. In addition, opt for a hat made with closely woven fabric because if you can see through it, chances are UV radiation can too. Please note hats alone may not protect the skin from reflected UV radiation, so triple the protection and wear sunglasses and sunscreen too.
Shade is nature’s take on a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing. Seek shade under trees or buildings wherever possible. Be prepared and BYO shade with a large umbrella, marquee or tent and remember to use other forms of protection such as clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to block out any reflected UV radiation from nearby surfaces.
Sunglasses Don’t forget to protect your eyes! While the eyelid’s job is to protect the eye, its skin is very thin and fragile when faced against harsh UV rays. Lucky the lens and the cornea inside the eyes filter UV rays, but like our skin, excessive exposure over a long period of time all adds up and increases the risk of cancer. Wear close-fitting sunglasses to protect the side of the eye as much as possible and choose sunglasses which meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 and preferably have an Eye Protection Factor of 10.
EXTRA TIPS: Be UV aware: The UV Index tells you the most dangerous times of the day. Find out the time period in which you need to be sun smart on the weather page of the Sunshine Coast Daily or on the Bureau of Meteorology website: www.bom.gov.au/weather/uv.
Plan your activities around the UV index: Avoid being outside in the dangerous time zone whenever possible. Check your skin regularly: Early detection is key. Check your own skin and your loved ones regularly for any unusual changes or new marks. See a doctor for professional advice and peace of mind. Back-up: Keep spare hats and umbrellas in your car or bag.