Let’s Talk Sun Safety in Our Community

Did you know that two out of three Aussies will face skin cancer at some point?[1] It’s a big deal here in Oz.

But here’s the silver lining: 95% of skin cancers are caused by UV radiation[2] and this cancer can be prevented by protecting your skin from the sun.

And guess what? You already know how to shield your skin from those pesky UV rays!

Yep, just remember this: Slip on clothes, Slop on sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek some shade, and Slide on sunglasses.




Understanding Skin Cancer: The Basics

Skin cancer is like a troublemaker for our skin cells.

Now, there are three main types to know:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
  • Melanoma

BCCs and SCCs are the common ones, often called non-melanoma skin cancers.

Melanoma, is a real troublemaker. It messes with melanocytes, the cells that paint our skin with colour. It’s serious because it can spread anywhere.

Check your skin and catch skin cancers early so they can be treated.

Cutting out skin cancer can cause scarring, and it’s good to be aware it can make a comeback and need other treatments.

Who's at Risk: The Skin Scoop

Skin cancer isn’t picky, but some folks are more on its radar:

  • Fair-skinned folks: You know, the ones with lighter hair and eyes. They might freckle or burn easily.
  • Quick sun bursts: If you’re usually inside but then turn into a sun worshipper on weekends, watch out.
  • Childhood sunburns: If you got crispy as a kid, your risk grows up with you.[3],[4]


Sun Protection Essentials: Your Shield Against UV Rays

The sun’s UV rays are the bad guys behind skin cancer, mostly UVA and a bit of UVB.

Here in Australia – we get a lot of UV radiation, this is thanks to our sunny location. Southern hemisphere locations receive about 15% more UV radiation than the equivalent northern location in any given year.

When going outside, being sun-smart will help prevent skin cancer. Here are some tips:

  • Check the UV index on your weather or SunSmart app. Sun protection is needed when the UV index is forecast to reach 3 or above.
  • Cover up: Wear clothes that cover arms, legs, and shoulders. Close weave fabrics and dark colours are your skin’s besties against UV.
  • Slather on SPF 50+ sunscreen: Put it on 20 minutes before going out, and don’t skimp. Reapply after swimming or towelling off.
  • Rock a wide-brimmed hat: Let your face, ears, and neck join the shade party.
  • Find shade: When UV is above 3, seek shelter under a tree or use an umbrella. Plan outdoor activities for mornings or evenings.
  • Slide on shades: Get sunnies that tick the Aussie guidelines. Think wrap-around, snug fit, and big lenses.

Tanning and Myths: Busting the Myths Wide Open

  • Myth #1 Tans are healthy.
    Fraid not, they’re your skin’s SOS signal of UV harm.
  • Myth #2 A tan will protect your skin from sun burn or other skin damage.
    A tan doesn’t shield you, it affords almost no protection against future UV exposure. But one damaged cell can trigger a skin cancer party.[5]
  • We need vitamin D from the sun.
    There is truth to this, but we don’t need to fry for it. Short incidental sun exposure as you go about your day when the UV is lower and eating vitamin D rich food has got most of us covered. If you have darker skin check with your doctor how much sun you need. Remember to always use sun protection when UV is higher.

Early Detection and Self-Exams: Taking Charge of You

  • Most skin cancer can be successfully treated if it is found early.[6]
  • Become familiar with the look of your skin and watch for skin changes. New spots or growing moles? Darker, itchier, or funky-shaped ones? Time to get a doc’s opinion.
  • If you notice changes, chat with your GP.

Conclusion: Shine Bright with Sun Safety

Skin cancer is a big deal, but we’re not helpless. Sun protection is our superhero. So, show your skin some love and bring the slip, slop, slap, seek and slide to the party. And remember, finding trouble early is the secret sauce – keep an eye on your skin and chat with a doc if you spot changes.