Skin Cancer Prevention
There is a range of prevention measures you can take to lessen your risk of Skin Cancer. The sun’s harmful UV rays can affect your skin, whether the days are bright and sunny or cool and cloudy, so it pays to take precautions to ensure maximum protection. Here are some things you can do.
The sun’s UV Rays are at their highest between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Avoid stepping out during these times if possible.
A 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outside including back of your hands, neck, and ears. Don’t forget to re-apply regularly and use a water-resistant sunscreen if you sweat, involved in active sports, or swimming.
Broad-brimmed or legionnaires hats are best because they provide coverage to your head face, ears, and neck. Hat not up to the task? Make sure you’ve got plenty of sunscreen on hand to apply to any exposed spots.
Protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays with good quality sunnies that meet the Australian Standard.
Slip on a shirt with a collar and long sleeves. Avoid anything too flimsy by holding it up to the light to check the weave. The higher density weave, the greater protection for your skin.
“Sunburn causes 95% of melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer. In Australia, 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 5 teenagers are sunburnt on an average summer weekend”*
Avoid sunburn at all costs. Sunburn is your body’s reaction to excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. You should also avoid solariums.
Be sure to monitor your skin for new and changing lesions and be sure to have your skin checked if you’re the wrong side of 40 — especially if you’re fair skinned, have had repeated sunburn, family history of melanoma or a large amount of pigmented lesions.
Without proper protection, UV radiation (both UVA and UVB) will immediately start to penetrate deep into the layers of your skin causing damage the skin’s cells.
When exposed, chemicals in the top layers of your skin are released causing your blood vessels to expand and leak fluids, leading to inflammation, pain, and redness.
Your skin will usually turn red within two to six hours of being burnt and will continue to develop over the next 24 to 72 hours. Peeling may also start as the skin heals and is the body’s way of getting rid of damaged skin cells that have the potential to turn cancerous.
Every time you get sunburned, whether serious or mild, it can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage. Repeated sunburn increases your risk of developing melanoma.
Important: If you’re severely sunburned and experiencing blistering, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or severe pain, you should seek hospital treatment immediately.
How to treat sunburn
Try these suggestions to manage the symptoms of your sunburn:
Stay out of the sun until the redness, inflammation, peeling and pain have disappeared.
Make sure you drink plenty of water to replenish your fluid levels.
Take cool showers as necessary. Cool compresses can also work wonders.
Try a cup of white vinegar to a cool bath and soak.
It won’t prevent peeling, but moisturising will help prevent the new skin below from drying out.
Apply a moisturising cream to the burnt area to keep it moist and supple as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Your chemist stocks a range of sunburn treatments that can be rubbed or sprayed onto the skin.
*Cancer Council of Australia