Practical sun protection advice is very important in minimising skin cancer and melanoma in Australia. This involves sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, seeking shade, sensible sun behaviours and wearing sunscreen.
Quality sun protective clothing and a hat provide a majority of your sun protection. Choose tightly woven threads which minimise sun penetration through your clothing, wear loose fitting long sleeves, wear your collar up, a broad brim hat and sunglasses– and you are off to a great start. Take an umbrella or sun tent to the beach. Wear a rash vest in and out of the water.
Check the UV index each day on you smart phone. If the UV index is greater than 3, the sun’s rays are harsh and you need to be attentive to sun protection and avoiding the sun by seeking shade. In Perth the UV index is above 3 between 10am and 2pm most days of the year. Choose to exercise outdoors early in the morning and/or later in the evening when the UV index is lowest.
Do not actively seek a sun tan. Do not use tanning beds. The best way to keep your skin looking youthful is to protect it from the sun. You can achieve adequate Vitamin D levels easily without any need for increased sun exposure or tanning, which may put you at risk of developing skin cancer and melanoma. Some sun is healthy, just be smart and sensible about it.
Use sunscreen properly, most Australians do not do this. Choose an SPF 50+ broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen. Avoid aerosol and spray bottle sunscreens, as they are difficult to apply thickly as required. Ensure the sunscreen you choose is TGA approved (look for AUST L number on label) and be cautious of so- called natural sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin, try using a physical sunscreen containing zinc or titanium dioxide. Nanoparticle sunscreens do not penetrate the skins barrier and based on current evidence are considered safe. Children may wear sunscreen from age 6 months.
When applying sunscreen apply this thickly and apply two coats a few minutes apart 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours. If the sunscreen on your skin gets wet you need to reapply this immediately, for example, when at the beach and swimming. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your ears, lips and the part line in your hair.
Your dermatologist at Perth Dermatology Clinic will provide you with practical advice for the Australian climate in which we live.