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Sun Protection and Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an important part of decreasing the over exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation which is a major contributor to causing skin cancers including melanoma. Overexposure to UV rays, the use of sunbeds or solariums are also linked to melanoma. Knowing your skin and knowing what is different to normal is very important for everybody. Early detection of skin cancers allows doctors to prescribe treatment in a timely fashion and to stop the cancer from progressing.

Vitamin D from the sun is important for normal healthy levels of the Vitamin. In Queensland the high UV levels mean that we can usually get enough vitamin D from everyday activities such as walking to the car, hanging out the washing etc.

Please see your GP if you are concerned about your levels of Vitamin D.

SUN PROTECTION

The old slogan of ‘SLIP – SLOP –  SLAP‘ has now been superseded by:

SLIP – SLOP – SLAP – SEEK – SLIDE

Slip on Protective clothing – long sleeves, high neck and collar, close weave material, darker colours and for swimming/water activities lycra or other material suitable for swimming.

Slop on sunscreen of SPF30 or higher – broad spectrum, water resistant, apply thoroughly at least 20 min prior to going outside, reapply every 2hours and use other forms of protection as hats and shade.

Slap on a hat – broad brimmed, close woven fabric – add sunscreen and sunglasses.

Seek shade – look for trees or shade from buildings – add suitable clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Slide on sunglasses – close fitting, wrap around -Australian Standard AS1067 with Eye Protection Factor (EPF) of 9 or more, add hat, suitable clothing, hat and sunscreen.

How does Sunscreen work?

Sunscreens were once known as physical or chemical sunscreens.  Sunscreens work by either scattering and, or, absorbing UV radiation. Ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide are scattering ingredients.  Examples of ingredients that absorb UV radiation are Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, Butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane and 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor.

SPF refers the the Sun Protection Factor and the time it takes for redness on the skin to appear in comparison to when there is no product used to protect the skin. If unprotected skin takes 10 minutes to burn then skin with SPF30 takes 30 x 10, 300 minutes to burn, an SPF50 takes 50x 10, 500 minutes to burn.   However, skin type, the UV level, whether the persons have been swimming, sweating or towel drying will change this time considerably.

UVA and UVB are the 2 types of harmful UV radiation emitted by the sun. Broad Spectrum sunscreens offer the best protection for UVA and UVB exposure.

Apply sunscreen thoroughly to clean and dry skin 20 minutes prior to exposure to UV  light.  Reapply at least every 2 hours and more frequently if swimming, playing sport, sweating, or towel drying.