Don't wait for summer to start covering up
WITH the summer months fast approaching and the warmer temperatures great encouragement for you to get active outside, now is a good time to refresh your sunscreen stock.
Don't be fooled by an overcast day as the damaging UV radiation can still be high. You can check out the UV index report in your local paper, on the Bureau of Meteorology website or by using the SunSmart app on your mobile phone.
In Queensland the UV index is above three year-round while in Victoria it's high from September to April.
Sunscreen should be applied daily to all exposed skin areas when the UV index is forecast to reach three or over.
It's best applied every morning and at least 20 minutes before you get any sun exposure, Remember to carry your sunscreen with you so you can reapply it every two hours during outdoor activity.
About one teaspoon of sunscreen is needed to cover one arm. Seven teaspoons should be enough to cover the whole body.
UV protective clothing is the best option for when you need to cover large areas of the body. Some fabrics are rated according to their ultraviolet protection factor or UPF. Protective clothing is rated 15 to 50 UPF, with 50 being the highest protection.
Just because you are older doesn't mean you won't still be affected by skin cancer. Dermatologist Dr Victoria Mar says skin cancers are more common among older Australians with two in three seniors developing a skin cancer by the age of 70.
"Sun damages the DNA in our skin cells," Dr Mar said. "This damage accumulates over time, even if we don't get sunburnt.
"Routine daily sunscreen use has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of skin cancer compared to discretionary sunscreen use. While many older Australians feel the damage has already been done, regular sun protection remains important in reducing your skin cancer risk."
While you are in the process of applying your daily dose of sunscreen, keep an eye on the condition of your skin. If there are any new or changing lesions, get them checked out.
"Some skin cancers may bleed or can be slightly tender or itchy," Dr Mar said. "Anything that stands out as an 'ugly duckling' or is new and grows over a period of over a month should be brought to the attention of your doctor."