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Cape Byron Medical Centre

Top 5 things to do to reduce your risk of skin cancer

1.Stay out of the sun during peak times

 

Yes, we all need some sun for our bodies to produce health and immune-promoting vitamin D. But we don’t want to cause harm to the skin and our health getting it.

UV rays are at their strongest between 10am and 2pm so plan to do outside activities before or after these times if you want to decrease your risk of sun damage. For example, exercise before breakfast or after dinner, especially if you are taking a walk, or going for a run.

Of course you can also seek out shade, use a large umbrella to protect you from some rays or carry a smaller one for shade when you are walking.

2.Cover up

If you’d like to avoid sun spots and, more importantly, skin cancer, reconsider what you wear every day. Long sleeve shirts and trousers will offer you far more protection that clothing that leaves more skin bare like shorts and a skimpy T-shirt or top. Close weave materials are best and, for swimming, UV-resistant lycra.

Wearing a wide brimmed hat when you are outdoors is also an easy way to protect your skin from ageing and disease. Wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067 will protect your eyes and the skin around them from sun damage.

   3.Wear a good quality sunbloc

Choose a non-chemical block that uses titanium dioxide or zinc as a barrier to UV rays. Look for one that is at least SPF30+. Remember to reapply it often and don’t forget tricky bits, like the back of your neck or ears.  If you’re swimming, look for a block that is water-proof.

  4.Check your skin

It’s important to have a look at your skin regularly. When you hop in or out of the bath or shower is a good time to do a skin check. Use the abcde method to decide whether a mole or spot spells trouble.

It stands for asymmetry – troublesome moles are usually not asymmetrical; border – irregular is bad; colour – one colour is good; diameter – bigger is worse; and elevation – flat is better than raised.

You’re on the lookout for crusty, non-healing sores, small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour, new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness, or shape over a period of weeks to months, especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour.

If you see any spots or moles you’re not sure about, always see your GP.

Remember. early treatment is the key to a good result.

  5.Call in the experts

A regular appointment with a skin specialist can give you peace of mind and help protect your health. Book an appointment with our Skin Specialist GP Dr Paddy Mclisky. In Australia, an annual appointment is ideal for most people, as we have all been exposed to high levels of UV.