Let's be smart about sun protection
The leading cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV, and as we're exposed to a high UV index for most of the year in Australia, it's important we actively participate in methods to keep ourselves safe from the harmful effects of the sun. If you really think about it, are you doing the best you can to protect your skin, or are you letting yourself down?
Skin cancer accounts for around 80% of new cancer diagnosis annually in Australia, and can have really devastating effects on individuals, their families, and communities. The Cancer Council of Australia estimate that "two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70", and people of any age are at risk (2018).
There are three types of skin cancer, which include:
1. Melanoma - cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells
2. Basal Cell Carcinoma - cancer that develops in the lower layers of the skin
3. Squamous Cell Carcinoma - cancer that develops in the upper layer of the skin
Melanoma is the most dangerous variation skin cancer, and is the most common cancer seen in young Australians between the age of 15 and 39. It also kills more Australians within this age group than any other variation of cancer (Melanoma Institute Australia, 2019).
Across all types of skin cancer the symptoms do differ, however commonly include:
- dry, flaky, non-healing sores
- small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
- new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (Cancer Council, 2018).
It's important to do regular skin checks and monitor for any changes - if you've got particularly fare skin, have lots of exposure to the sun, have a family history of skin cancers, or experience sun burn regularly, you're at an increased risk. Like other forms of cancer, catching skin cancer is really key to ensuring it can be easily treated, and particularly with melanoma, that it won't have an impact on your life.
Preventing Skin Cancer
Protection, protection, protection!
We all know 'Slip, Slop, Slap' - the Cancer Council advise:
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;
Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards (2018).
My Favorite Sunscreens
I wear sunscreen every day - even if the only sun exposure I'm getting is walking to work in the middle of winter. Call me paranoid, but we know well enough by now that the UV index can be really high even when the sun is hidden. Because I do this, I like to consider myself a bit of an expert, so this is what I use:
Go-To Skincare Zincredible
This one is for general day to day sun exposure to the face, neck and chest. It's only SPF 15+. but does the job for when I'm just popping out and about to do jobs or walking to and from work. It also sits really nicely under make up, but it also comes with a tinted option.
It is a bit on the pricey side at $45, but it's a really lovely product that's moisturizing and refreshing.
10 points to Go-To.
You can get it online here: https://www.gotoskincare.com/products/face/zincredible
Invisible Zinc Face + Body
SPF 50+ is my best friend. After lots of frustrating trial with other sunscreens I landed on this fantastic product. It's pretty much the only product I will use now when I am intending on doing all the fun things that require being out in the sun - pool, beach, picnic etc.
It's friendly on sensitive skin, is water resistant, and doesn't make it feel like my pores are suffocating.
For more info on this one, and other fantastic products in the Invisible Zinc range head here: https://invisiblezinc.com/products/
At the end of the day, the higher the SPF the higher the protection is going to be. Aim for any product that is at least SPF 30+ if you know you're going to be out in the sun. I'd recommend avoiding spray on type sunscreens, and without wanting to get myself into a legal battle, the least effective sunscreens I have ever worn in my life have been made by Banana Boat (avoid). Sunscreen does expire so make sure what you're using is in date. Apply at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, and don't forget that just because you have sunscreen on, doesn't mean you should neglect to cover up where possible, wear a hat, and hang out in the shade.
Do you have a sunscreen that you love that we can add to this list? Let me know!
Enjoy your summer,
Cancer Council. (2018). Skin Cancer. Retrieved 17th January 2019, from: https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer.html
Melanoma Institute Australia. (2019). Melanoma Facts and Statistics. Retrieved 17th January 2019, from: https://www.melanoma.org.au/understanding-melanoma/melanoma-facts-and-statistics/