WAYS TO PRO­TECT SKIN

RE­MEM­BER PREVEN­TION BEATS CURE. HERE’S FIVE TIPS ON WHAT TO DO

Life & Style Weekend - - SKIN CANCER AWARENESS - WORDS: LAYNE WHIT­BURN

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.

Sun­screen

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.

Hat

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.

Get shady

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.

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