For most Australians, summer is a time for the beach and plenty of sunshine. It’s easy to forget that without adequate protection, this increases your risk of skin cancer, also known as Australia’s national cancer.
While surfing is a great way to have fun and stay fit, surfers also run a higher risk of skin damage and skin cancer due to extended periods of sun exposure.
Here are some tips on how you can protect your skin from the sun this summer!
1. Learn to understand the UV index
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main cause of sunburn, premature ageing of the skin, eye damage and skin cancer. Each time your skin is unprotected from the sun, UV radiation damages the DNA in the skin cells. The damage is permanent and increases with each exposure to UV radiation. In fact, 95% of skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation.
The good news is it can be prevented, and it’s never too late to start! When the UV index is 3 or above we need to protect the skin from sun damage. Did you know our free SunSmart app tells you what times of the day sun protection is recommended for your current location? You can even get pop-up daily reminders! The App uses forecast information from the Bureau of Meteorology and live UV data from ARPANSA.
Whether it’s your rashie, wetsuit, or just your favourite surf shirt, be sure to wear long-sleeve sun-protective clothing with a close weave. Clothing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your skin, so aim to cover up as much as possible whenever the UV is 3 or above.
Don’t forget to apply plenty of sunscreen or zinc to your nose, cheeks, ears and lips to make sure that you’re getting as much protection for those areas that are most prone to sun exposure.
Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more if you’re in the surf, towel drying or sweating excessively.
4. Slap on a hat
Caps won’t do the job. The best form of sun protection is to wear a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire-style surf hat which protects your ears, sides of the face and back of the neck.
5. Seek shade
Now, obviously when you’re out in the surf there aren’t many options to find shade. An easy way to avoid high UV exposure is to surf early in the morning, or later in the afternoon.
When you get out of the water, it’s important to seek shade as soon as possible. UV rays can reflect off surfaces such as sand, water and paving, so remember to use other sun protection measures when in the shade too.