Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with sunburns causing 95% of melanomas. In 2015 (latest data available) 2,200 Australians died from this entirely preventable disease. We had the old “Slip, Slop and Slap” drilled into us as kids but as we get older a lot of people seem to worry less about sun protection.
This Summer is looking to be extremely hot. It does not take very long to get burnt so we’re covering a few tips on how to protect you from those harmful UV rays and hopefully prevent some painful sunburn.
Avoid Sun Exposure
It makes sense that the best method to prevent sunburn is to avoid exposure where possible, especially around midday when the rays are strongest. If you’re walking anywhere use shade where available.
It may not be the trendiest thing in the world, but wearing a brimmed hat that covers your neck, nose and ears will certainly prevent some pain down the line.
Sunglasses with UV protection will help a lot with glare and prevent sunburn occurring around your eyes from reflected sources. Those who use prescription glasses can opt to get a coating applied that will take care of that for you.
When you’ve shopped for sunscreen, you have probably noticed products with varying degrees on Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays which cause sunburns. The number DOES make a difference, but maybe not the one you were expecting. Manufacturers know this and use it as a marketing tool.
According to dermatologist James Spencer, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.
So it doesn’t particularly matter which one you use, just make sure that you get some and apply it. Obviously there are sunscreens designed to be used in the water so if you’re heading to the beach it might be worth your while picking that up as well.
Correct application of sunscreen is to put it on 20-30 minutes before going into the sun, and reapply every 2-3 hours while in the sun. More regular applications are recommended if you’re swimming or doing activity that causes you to sweat a lot.