Here in North Queensland summer starts early! You can start to feel it warming up. More sun means we should all be focused on a sun care routine. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world making it even more important to be sun safe leading into summer and the festive season.
2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the time they turn 70. This is largely due to the fact that being in the sun is a big part of the Australian lifestyle and even more so in Qld. It is the over exposure to the sun that skin cancer i.e. melanoma occurs. It is important to know what symptoms to look for and when to see your doctor if you have concerns.
- Colour: a mole may change colour or become blotchy
- Size: mole may increase in size
- Shape: an irregular border may develop or increases height
- Elevation: develop a raised area
- Itching or bleeding of a mole
It is common to develop new moles during childhood and during pregnancy. However, changes in adults should be examined by a doctor.
Those who are at a higher risk fall under the following:
- Unprotected sun exposure
- History of childhood tanning/sunburn
- Have a pattern of short and intense period of UV exposure
- Increased number of unusual moles
- Depressed immune system
- Have a 1st degree family member with history of Melanoma
- Fair skinned with a tendency to burn
Has had a previous Melanoma
There are lots of recommendations and confusing instructions when in comes to sun care, but we can help make it simple for you:
- Use sunscreen on days with a UV index of 3 or higher
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going into the sun
- For an adequate application for an adult, one teaspoon of sunscreen should be applied to each limb
- There is very little difference between SPF 30+ and SPF 50+. SPF 30+ has a UVB protection of 96.7% and SPF 50+ has a UBV protection of 98%.
- Some sunscreen labels state they have a 4-hour water resistance however, it still needs to be reapplied every 2 hours to maintain the same level of protection
- For babies under 6 months, sunscreen shouldn’t be used. You will have to rely on protective clothing, hats and shade for sun protection.
Just like in the well known 1980’s sun safe campaign, don’t forget to Slip, Slop, Slap. Now we see in addition to this well known campaign ‘Seek & Slide’. Seek shade and Slide on some sunglasses.
Did you know?
FNQH Cairns Medical & Skin Cancer Centre was the first practice in the world to install a new skin-cancer detection machine. It is a 3D scanner that captures anatomical data in just 2 seconds to create an avatar. Patients can take away the data on a USB making it far easier to track changes. Located next door to Alive Pharmacy Warehouse DFO.
With the increase of sunlight, we have a better opportunity to get that all-important vitamin D. Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You need about 10-30 minutes of sunshine daily to get enough vitamin D. Those with a darker complexion may need a little more. It plays a several important roles in your body. Regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and the facilitating of normal immune system function. This is especially important for the elderly as broken bones put them as risk and they heal more slowly.
Besides taking in sunlight which helps your body to produce vitamin D you can also get it from eating certain foods:
- Egg yolk
- Milk (fortified)
- Cereal (fortified)
- Yoghurt (fortified)
- Orange juice (fortified)
While sunlight is great for vitamin D, over exposure can lead to skin cancer. Sunscreen is great for protection but sometimes the damage has already been done. There are products that can help reverse and minimise the appearance of sun damage. These products utilise Vitamin B3, also know as Niacin and Niacinamide. It boosts the immune response that declines with age helping repair the damage.