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 all or as many of the following measures as possible 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 outdoors and reapply every 2 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 full body application.
Slap on a hatWear a hat that shades your face, neck and ears. This includes legionnaire, broad-brimmed and bucket hats. Check to make sure the hat meets the Australian Standard. Choose fabric with a close weave that doesn’t let the light through. Baseball caps and sun visors do not offer enough protection.
Slide on sunglassesProtect your eyes with sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard. 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 radiation.
Check daily sun protection timesEach day, use the free SunSmart app to check the recommended sun protection times in your local area. For more information, visit sunsmart.com.au.
You can also find sun protection times at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM Weather app) or in the weather section of daily newspapers.
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.
Prof H Peter Soyer, Chair in Dermatology and Director, Dermatology Research Centre, The University of Queensland, Diamantina Institute, and Consultant, Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; A/Prof Matteo Carlino, Medical Oncologist, Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals, Melanoma Institute Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Anne Cust, Deputy Director, The Daffodil Centre, The University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW, Chair, National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council and faculty member, Melanoma Institute Australia; Prof Diona Damian, Dermatologist, Head of Department, Dermatology, The University of Sydney at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW, and Melanoma Institute Australia; A/Prof Paul Fishburn, General Practitioner – Skin Cancer, Norwest Skin Cancer Clinic, NSW and The University of Queensland; Claire Kelly, National Support Manager, and Emma Zurawel, Telehealth Nurse, Melanoma Patients Australia; Prof John Kelly, Consultant Dermatologist, Victorian Melanoma Service, The Alfred Melbourne and Monash University, VIC; Liz King, Manager, Skin Cancer Prevention Unit, Cancer Council NSW; Lee-Ann Lovegrove, Consumer; Lynda McKinley, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Angelica Miller, Melanoma Community Support Nurse, Melanoma Institute Australia incorporating melanomaWA, and Cancer Wellness Centre, WA; Dr Amelia Smit, Research Fellow, Melanoma and Skin Cancer, The Daffodil Centre, The University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW; Prof Andrew Spillane, Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney, The Mater and Royal North Shore Hospitals, NSW, and Melanoma Institute Australia; Kylie Tilley, Consumer; A/Prof Tim Wang, Radiation Oncologist, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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