According to the Cancer Council every year, in Australia:
- skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
- between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
- GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
- the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
With numbers like these it is not enough to apply just sunscreen. The higher the SPF number the better protection. A sunscreen with SPF 15 provides about 94% protection against UVB, while SPF 30 and 50+ provides 97% and 98% respectively. Best practice is to apply a generous amount to all areas of the body and to reapply after 2 hours or after sweating or swimming. Moreover, the type of sunscreen you purchase should be tailored to your specific skin type. For sensitive skin, look for hypoallergenic/low irritant sunscreens. Dry/oily skin it is best to choose a lighter base, alcohol based lotion sprays or gels. If you plan to do outdoor activities and may get wet chose a sunscreen that is water resistant.
Our skin creates Vitamin D from small amounts of UVB, however large amounts may lead to sunburn and contributes to skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB suppress skin immune functions. For these reasons it is recommended that sun protection play an important role in your lifetime. There are various other preventive measures you can take to ensure minimal sun damage and possibly save your life:
- During 10 AM and 4PM seek shade as that is when the sun is strongest
- Avoid tanning beds
- If you burn easily cover up with sun protective clothing
- Wear a board brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
- Examine your skin regularly
- See your doctor every year
Another tool for your disposal is the SunSmart UV alert. It notifies you when sun protection is needed the most during the day, ensuring you protect yourself from UV radiation. It has been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology and alerts you the forecast is to reach 3 or above; which is the level the sun’s rays can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer.
Sunsmart UV Alert
Additionally, a great way to prevent skin cancer is through early detection and treatment. This is especially important for employees who spend prolong periods of time working outdoors. A few tips on checking your skin for skin cancer:
- It is important to inspect all areas of your body including soles of your feet, between your toes, your underarm, ears, and scalp
- To view the back of your neck and legs use a hand held mirror
- Look for sores that haven’t healed or moles that are changing size, shape, or color
- Understand the warning signs of melanoma- the ABCDE rule”
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions
By using the SunSmart widget (‘Widget’) you agree to the following terms and conditions: Cancer Council Victoria (‘CCV’) owns the intellectual property in the Widget and the Widget must not be modified without CCV’s prior written consent. You may reproduce the Widget on other websites and intranets provided it is not for commercial purposes or reward, and provided a copy of this disclaimer is also reproduced. You acknowledge that using sun protection during the times stated on the widget does not guarantee that you will not get skin cancer, and that you may also need to use sun protection outside of the sun protection times stated on the Widget. CCV accepts no liability of any kind arising out of the use of, or otherwise associated with, the Widget.