Protecting your skin
Most melanomas are caused by exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. After a diagnosis of melanoma, it is especially important to check your skin regularly and follow SunSmart behaviour. When UV levels are 3 or above, use a combination of the following measures to protect your skin.
Slip on clothingWear clothing that covers your shoulders, neck, arms, legs and body. Choose closely woven fabric or fabric with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating , and darker fabrics where possible.
Slop on sunscreenUse an SPF 30 or higher broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen. Apply 20 minutes before going out and reapply every two hours, or after swimming, sweating or any activity that causes you to rub it off. For an adult, the recommended amount is 1 teaspoon for each arm, each leg, front of body, back of body, and the face, neck and ears – a total of 7 teaspoons of sunscreen for one application.
Slap on a hatWear a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears. Adult hats should have at least a 7.5 cm brim. Hats for children aged under 8 years should have at least a 5 cm brim; hats for children aged 8–12 should have at least a 6 cm brim.
Slide on sunglassesProtect your eyes with sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067. Wraparound styles are best. Sunglasses should be worn all year round to protect both the eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes.
Seek shadeUse shade from trees, umbrellas, buildings or any type of canopy. UV radiation is reflective and bounces off surfaces, such as concrete, water, sand and snow, so shade should never be the only form of sun protection used. If you can see the sky through the shade, even if the direct sun is blocked, the shade will not completely protect you from UV.
Check daily sun protection timesUse the SunSmart UV Alert to check the recommended sun protection times in your local area every day. It is available as an app, online (SunSmart or bom.gov.au/uv), in the weather section of daily newspapers, or free website widget.
Avoid solariumsDo not use solariums. Also known as tanning beds or sun lamps, solariums give off artificial UV radiation and are banned for commercial use in Australia.
A/Prof Robyn Saw, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Prof Bryan Burmeister, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare Fraser Coast and Hervey Bay Hospital, QLD; Tamara Dawson, Consumer, Melanoma & Skin Cancer Advocacy Network; Prof Georgina Long, Co-Medical Director, Melanoma Institute Australia, and Chair, Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Alexander Menzies, Medical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney, Royal North Shore and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Chair, Cancer Council’s National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia; Prof H Peter Soyer, Chair in Dermatology and Director, Dermatology Research Centre, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, and Director, Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Julie Teraci, Clinical Nurse Consultant and Coordinator, WA Kirkbride Melanoma Advisory Service, WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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