The warmer months call for a boost in sun behaviour habits. Queensland holds the unfortunate title of skin cancer capital of the world, with 3960 Queenslanders diagnosed with melanoma each year.
As the weather warms up and the sun stays out for longer, it’s natural to spend more time outside. But it’s vital to remember to be sun safe, as sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes.
Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes permanent damage that adds up over time. Almost all skin cancers, including melanoma, are caused by over-exposure to UV, meaning skin cancer is almost entirely preventable.
Once skin damage occurs from UV radiation, it is impossible to reverse, but it is never too late to make improvements to your sun protection behaviours.
Healthy sun safe habits to adopt:
Slip on protective clothing
- Cover as much skin as possible with clothes made from close-weave materials such as cotton, polyester, cotton or linen.
- Wear dark colours, as they absorb UV radiation, rather than reflecting it onto the skin.
- Wear swimwear made from materials such as lycra that stay sun protective when wet.
Slop on sunscreen
- Wear SPF30 or higher sunscreen that is broad spectrum and water resistant.
- Apply liberally to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outside.
- Reapply every two hours.
- Use with other forms of sun protection such as hats, sunglasses and shade.
Slap on a hat
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat that provides good protection for the face, nose, neck and ears. (Caps and visors do not provide adequate protection).
- Wear a hat made with closely woven fabric. If you can see through it, UV radiation will get through.
- Wear it with sunglasses and sunscreen to increase your levels of protection.
- Make use of trees or built shade structures or bring your own pop-up tent or umbrella.
- Make sure your shade structure casts a dark shadow.
- Use other protection (such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen) to avoid reflected UV radiation from nearby surfaces.
Slide on sunglasses
- Wear close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067 and provide an Eye Protection Factor (EPF) of 9 or above.
- Wear them with a broad-brimmed hat to reduce radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98 per cent.
Sun protection is required when the UV levels reach 3 and above. It’s important to remain vigilant about sun safety all year round in Queensland, where the UV index remains 3 and above throughout the year. In summer, the UV index can be 3 and above as early as 7:30 in the morning, and as late as 3:30 in the afternoon.
UV radiation is an invisible danger because we can’t see or feel it. By staying SunSmart every day you can reduce your exposure to UV radiation and reduce your risk.