How long do you spend under the sun?
Probably a lot more time than you think.
Going outdoors and getting some much-needed Vitamin D can positively impact your mood, and can also improve sleeping habits and alertness during the day.
You can’t deny the relaxing, indulgent feeling of laying on the beach or enjoying a summer picnic – they’re some of the best ways to spend time outside!
However, it begs the question: how long is it safe to stay under the sun?
We’re all guilty of it – particularly those who grew up in the 60s and 70s when the goal was to get a deep tan as fast as possible – and skin protection was a virtual unknown.
Additionally, we all know how easy it is to get sunburned, especially when you least expect it.
The question of how much sun we should get daily falls right in between less time than it takes for UVA and UVB rays to burn you, but long enough that you can enjoy the benefits of Vitamin D (particularly during colder, greyer winters).
However it’s important to remember that anytime you’re exposed to the sun, you should be wearing at least 30+SPF sunscreen (if the UV levels are 3 or above).
How can sunlight cause skin cancer?
You already know that the sun emits Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) that can ultimately damage the skin. These rays penetrate the skin and cause sunburn. It can also cause premature aging.
Too much sun exposure can damage the genetic makeup of the skin – your DNA. If part of your skin’s DNA is damaged, the growth of cells becomes abnormal and out of control, thus causing skin cancer.
Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV) is one of skin cancer’s main causes. This is why most skin cancer treatment is performed on the face, head, hands, neck, and scalp – areas which see the most exposure.
Is skin cancer inherited?
Research shows that defective genes can be inherited and thus can increase your likelihood to develop skin cancer.
Changes in your DNA caused by overexposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) may affect cell growth and cause cancerous cells to develop.
In short, while a small percent of skin cancer can be influenced by your genetics, the majority of cases simply come from your lifestyle and environmental factors.
Can exfoliating prevent skin cancer?
Exfoliation may often be used as part of your weekly beauty regime, but did you know that it may also be effective enough to reduce some forms of skin cancer?
Glycolic acid in creams and lotions can help reduce actinic keratoses that reduce squamous cell cancer development.
How can you protect yourself from skin cancer?
What steps can people take to reduce their risk and/or prevent skin cancer?
As the old adage goes, prevention is always better than cure. However, we know that our lifestyles – particularly here in Australia and in sunny Cairns – the sun seems to follow us wherever we go.
However there are 4 simple things you can do that will have a massive impact on the way you protect your skin not only from skin cancer, but other damaging effects of the sun, including wrinkles, fine lines, thinning and sagging skin, pigmentation, and premature aging.
1. Avoid over sun exposure
To practise sun safety, schedule outdoor activities around the hottest part of the day. Check the UV rating daily and if possible, get outside before 10am and after 4pm. it is best to schedule your outdoor activities before 10 am and after 4.pm.
In between those times, the sun’s UV rays are the strongest and cause you to get sunburned and have skin damage. Overexposure to the sun may usually put you at great risk of developing skin cancer.
If you know you’re going to be outdoors during these hours, take simple steps to protect yourself. Start by following the 5 S’s (more on those below) – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, and Slide.
2. Apply sunscreen every single day
The second of the S’s stands for Slop – and that means Slop on high-quality, broad spectrum sunscreen to every part of your body that will be exposed.
That means the face (don’t forget the ears and neck!), arms, Choosing the right sunscreen with more than SPF 30 and applying the right amount of sunscreen can help you protect your skin from the harmful UV radiation.
To make the most out of your sunscreen protection, it is best to re-apply every 2 hours, especially when you are outdoors and have direct sun exposure.
3. Wear protective clothing
Wearing long-sleeves and other protective clothing outdoors will also provide your skin with excellent protection.
Covering your arms and legs with lightweight clothing is still comfortable during summer heat, and doubles as additional cover.
Add a stylish wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that offer UV protection, and you’ve taken some smart steps to protect yourself!
4. Book a yearly skin check
One of the best ways to protect yourself from skin cancer is with the help from a professional eye – and that comes in the form of a skin check.
As you do your part to protect your skin every day of the year, it’s important to also utilise the experience of a skin cancer professional who can accurately map your skin and take note of any abnormalities or anomalies that trigger an alert or warning.
Being familiar with your skin is a great start – keep an eye on freckles and spots and be aware of any changes to their size, colour, or texture.
Thankfully, early detection due to your keen eye and through yearly skin checks makes these types of cases highly treatable.
This is why self-examination is very important, especially when you see suspicious skin spots that can easily change, such as itchy and bleeding skin parts that can differ from other parts of your body.
Our skin cancer surgery in Cairns offers surgery, treatment, and after-care support. We offer treatments for the face and anywhere on the body.
What are the 5 S’s for sun safety?
Taking care of your skin starts by taking extra precautions when you’re enjoying the outdoors.
Skin cancer prevention can be summed up in 5 S’s:
- Slip on sun-protective clothing (including long sleeves or rashie vests)
- Slop on sunscreen – choose at least SPF30 protection and reapply every 2 hours (particularly after sweating or swimming)
- Slap on a wide brim hat to protect the ears and neck
- Seek shelter or shade during the sun peak of 10am to 4pm
- Slide on a pair of UV protection sunglasses to protect your eyes
Don’t forget – a session at the beach or picnic in the park isn’t the only time you’re exposed to the sun.
Think of every incremental 10 or 15-minute block spent in the sun. That could be:
- Driving to work in the morning
- Walking to and from the train station
- Out to brunch with a friend on a Saturday morning
- Even sitting in front of windows when working in the office (or home!)
Skin protection might seem more prevalent during hot, sunny days, but keep in mind that UV can do the most damage on a cloudy or overcast day, too.
Skin protection should be a part of your everyday routine – starting with a good UV sunscreen on your face.
Book a skin cancer test at Cairns today!
Trust a professional skin expert to conduct yearly skin checks and keep an eye on any abnormalities or changes.
Skin cancer therapy at Cairns is conducted by trusted surgeon Dr Isolde Hertess. Surgeries are either conducted in our clinic or across the road at Cairns Private Hospital.