As a male, you’re great at protecting loved ones and things you care about from damaging UV exposure. Children are very well protected and even the car, deck and barbeque get covered up. Most men know, if you cover something, it lasts longer. Unfortunately, you don’t always apply the same rules to yourself.
Sadly, skin cancer kills twice as many men as women each year in Australia.
How would your partner, parents or children feel if they were in danger of losing you from deadly melanoma? Did you do everything you could to protect yourself from a cancer that’s highly preventable?
New ‘news’ on sun protection
You might think you do the right thing when it comes to sun protection. You wear a hat when it’s sunny and put on sunscreen when it’s roasting hot. That’s a positive step but unfortunately, it’s only half the job which leaves you highly susceptible to skin damage which can lead to skin cancer.
If you haven’t given much thought to sun protection since the early days of Slip, Slop, Slap, it may be time to reassess what you think you know!
Here are a few things that might surprise you:
- Sun protection is critical at any age – even if you think the damage was done growing up
It’s never too late to protect your skin and lower your risk of skin cancer. Whether you’re 6, 16 or 60 years, using five forms of sun protection when the UV is 3 and above reduces your exposure to UV and means you’re not adding further damage to what may already be there. Damage may have been done early in life but you can help reduce the risk being realised by protecting your skin at any age.
- No one is immune to skin cancer and there’s no such thing as a ‘base’ tan to protect you
Having olive or dark skin doesn’t make you bullet proof to the damaging effects of UV. Skin cancer can and does happen to all skin types. Suntanned skin is a sign that your skin cells are in trauma and have been damaged. Getting a ‘base’ tan at the start of summer indicates the skin’s cell have already had some damage increasing your risk of skin cancer.
- Sun protection is needed when the UV is 3 and above – not just when it’s hot and sunny
We need to shout this one from the roof tops … it’s the UV from the sun, not the heat that causes damage to the skin. You can’t feel or see UV which is what makes it so dangerous. And it’s often the incidental exposure from day-to-day activities, like cooking on the barbeque and mowing the lawn, that does the damage. The UV can be high even on cool or cloudy days so it’s important to look out for the sun protection times (download the free SunSmart App) so you know when to cover up. If you work outdoors, you’ll need sun protection all year round as the damage from UV exposure adds up – so even at very low levels if you’re outdoors a lot, you’re at risk.
- A cap only does half the job – wear a broad-brim hat for effective sun protection
A cap only covers part of your face leaving your neck, cheeks and ears exposed. These are common areas for skin cancer to appear. A cap is like wearing half a welding mask. If you are going to do the job properly, wear the gear that works – a broad-brim hat of at least 7cm that shades your entire head, neck and ears.
- You can’t rely on sunscreen alone and correct application is critical
Sunscreen is not a suit of armour so don’t ask too much of it. Sunscreen should be used with the other forms of sun protection (hats, clothing, sunglasses and shade) not instead of them. Use clothing to cover up and sunscreen to help protect the parts you can’t cover. To be effective, sunscreen needs to be applied correctly and frequently – use a generous amount on exposed areas every 2 hours. Choose SPF 30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen.
UV is everywhere and if you can see unprotected skin, UV can damage it resulting in tan or sunburn. Both of which can lead to skin cancer.
If you’re not so keen on doing it for yourself, maybe think about someone else in your life who wants you around and cover up for them. As you know, if you cover something it lasts longer – particularly when it comes to your skin.
Learn how to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide effectively at www.sunsmart.com.au