Australia’s sunny climate makes our country a great place to live, work and play. But with our sun’s strong UV rays come an increased risk of skin cancer. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Thankfully, there are lots of ways you can protect your skin and reduce your risk.
Before we delve deeper into prevention, it’s important to understand what skin cancer is. Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, often due to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. There are three main types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma – the most dangerous form. While melanoma is less common, it’s more likely to spread and can be deadly if not caught early.
The Cancer Council recommends protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays in five ways. To help you, remember the 5 S’s – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.
Not all sunscreens are created equal. When you’re at the chemist, you’ll find shelves full of different brands, all with various SPF ratings. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects against UV rays, which is the main cause of sunburn and contributes significantly to skin cancer. It’s recommended to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that is broad-spectrum, meaning it filters both UVA and UVB rays. If possible, choose a brand that is water resistant, to increase its effectiveness while swimming and sweating.
Using sunscreen correctly is an integral part of skin cancer prevention. Here’s how to do it right:
The UV index is a measure of the sun’s intensity. It can help you decide when to seek shade and when to apply sunscreen. As a rule of thumb, if the UV index is 3 or above, it’s time to protect your skin or seek shelter. The Cancer Council recommends using sunscreen every day on days when the UV Index is forecast to be 3 or above. If you want reliable, real-time UV level forecasts for locations across Australia and the rest of the world, download the Cancer Council’s free SunSmart Global UV app.
Regular skin checks can help detect skin cancer early when it’s easiest to treat. While it’s good practice to check your skin regularly at home, you should consider booking a professional skin check at a skin clinic at least once a year. Skin clinics will perform a full-body evaluation, carefully examining any suspicious skin lesions or moles. If removal or further treatment is required, they will develop a tailored plan for management and future prevention.
When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is essential in achieving the best outcome. Regular skin checks are an important part of your skin cancer prevention plan. If you need a check-up, book an appointment at the Eli Waters Medical Centre’s Skin Clinic today. Our team of medical practitioners will guide you through a comprehensive skin check at one of our clinics on the Fraser Coast, carefully examining any skin lesions or moles of concern.