Skin protection tips for over 60s
EVEN though there are various factors that affect whether a person can get skin cancer, the old adage of 'slip, slop, slap', never goes out fashion; it applies to everyone, every day.
Two in three Australians develop skin cancer by age 70. It starts with the sun damaging the DNA in the skin cells and that damage accumulating over time, even if we don't get sunburnt.
We only need between 10 to 15 minutes of early morning sunshine on our skin each day to produce our daily Vitamin D needs. "The rest of your day you should be focusing on your sun protection," dermatologist at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Associate Professor Khosrotehrani said.
The recent Australian Sunscreen Summit reconfirmed to practitioners that the daily application of sunscreen, whether it's 30 or 50 plus, is the most effective protection. "Really, the best sunscreen is the one you put on," Professor Khosrotehrani added.
He suggests if you aren't sure what type to use, try the samples at your pharmacy. But, he recommends avoiding the spray-on sunscreen as you really don't know how much of it actually gets on your skin.
For anyone who has fair skin, sun spots or has already had skin cancer, they should make it their daily routine to apply sunscreen on the two places most likely to be exposed to significant UV index - their face including forehead and ears, and the back of their hands.
Of course, any other skin surfaces exposed while you are out in the sun should also have sunscreen applied to it, but the face and hands are the two skin areas that are most likely to always be in the sun.
Covering up by wearing UV resistant clothing is another way to protect your skin. You can also wear darker coloured clothes which let in lesser light, or wear light coloured clothes with sunscreen applied underneath. "If you go out with a very thin, white shirt and lie down on the beach for five hours, you will get burnt under the shirt," Professor Khosrotehrani warned.
Monitor your skin health
Monitoring the condition of your skin is important. What you need to look out for and get checked out is -
- An inflamed pimple or a wounded area that hasn't healed for a couple of weeks. "A lot skin cancers manifest like that," Professor Khosrotehrani said.
- With moles and brown lesions, if you have a new lesion or one that is changing rapidly.
Everyone should have a full skin check at least once. The GP can then advise how often you should get re-checked after that. You can also use the online tool qskin.qimrberghofer.edu.au to predict the risk of you developing non-melanoma skin cancers within three years.
If you have had skin cancer, Professor Khosrotehrani recommends you should get a full skin check every six to 12 months.
Manage skin cancers
For those people who have had a lot of skin cancers, Professor Khosrotehrani said taking vitamin B3 tablets helps reduce the number of skin cancers by about 20 to 30 per cent.
One product he mentioned was Blackmore's Insolar which is available across the counter at pharmacies.
"It's not just about cutting cancers out, it's also about the treatments you receive between these cancers to reduce the numbers," he added.