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January 9, 2024

Research finds Aussie women aren’t doing enough to be sun safe, worrying experts

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 2:01 am

Are you doing enough to protect yourself from the sun?

New research from TAL reveals that whilst 85 per cent of Aussie women say skin safety is important to them, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) agree they should be doing more to protect themselves against skin cancer.

While we all know that sun safety is absolutely crucial – especially here in Australia – it seems like there’s a disconnect between what we know and what we do. 

READ MORE: Do beach cabanas actually protect you from the sun? 

Suntan cream bottle and sunglasses on beach towel with sea shore on background. Sunscreen on deck chair outdoors on sunrise or sunset. Skin care and protection concept.

Take, for example, checking UV ratings before leaving the house. The research found that 68 per cent of Aussie women do not know how to check UV levels, and the majority never, rarely, or only sometimes check them before spending time outdoors.

“Australia’s high UV index is well-documented, but many of us can still be complacent and underestimate the impact of sun exposure,” Dr Priya Chagan, TAL General Manager of Health Services tells 9Honey Coach.

“This is particularly dangerous given the record-breaking heat that many parts of Australia are already experiencing this summer.”

The same goes for self-checking to identify potential skin cancers. Nearly half of respondents say they wouldn’t be able to spot anything that could be dangerous on their skin.

9Honey Coach spoke with Dr Chagan to understand how we can better prepare ourselves for living in the hot Aussie climate.

Fashionable woman sitting by the pool on the empty deck of a cruise liner.

What is a UV level and how do you check it?

UV or ultraviolet radiation is a type of energy that is emitted by the sun. When you’re exposed to UV radiation through sun exposure, it can cause damage to skin cells and this is the main cause of skin cancer.

The UV index is reported on the Bureau of Meteorology website and most weather apps, or you can find it on the Cancer Council Australia’s free SunSmart Global UV app. Whenever you are checking the temperature, also check the UV index.

At what UV level do you need sun protection?

Cool or cloudy days can be deceiving, and don’t always equate to low UV radiation. It is important to get in the habit of checking the UV levels before you head out for the day, the same way you check the weather and apply sunscreen as part of your daily morning routine.

The Cancer Council of Australia states an index of 3 or above means that UV levels are high enough to damage unprotected skin. Whenever it is forecast to reach a UV index above 3, sunscreen is a must as well as combining with other sun protection measures, like seeking shade or wearing a hat.

During the Australian summer, the UV index is above 3 most of the time!

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Roughly how much sunscreen should we apply?

The most important areas to apply sunscreen to are the face, neck, chest, arms, and legs. These are the parts of the body that are likely to be exposed to the sun throughout the day.

Sunscreen takes about 20 minutes to sink into the skin and be effective, so applying before getting dressed ensures you’re protected by the time you step out the door to start your day.

SunSmart has a Sunscreen calculator that can help you work out how much sunscreen you should be using.

READ MORE: How a flexologist made me feel the best I have in years

Close up on woman applying sun cream on her arm with a spray at the beach on a warm, sunny day. Sunscreen protection, skin cancer concept

SunSmart says most adults should use at least seven teaspoons of sunscreen for one full body application to cover exposed skin properly and to reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.

Do we have to wear sunscreen even in winter? Even if it’s cloudy?

Rather than just applying sunscreen when out in the sun, it’s important to apply first thing in the morning before getting dressed. Gloomy days can be deceiving, and don’t always equate to low UV radiation, so it is important to be using sunscreen all year round.

What is the best way to protect yourself from the sun?

Vigilance in performing regular skin self-checks is an important tool in the early detection of skin cancer and neglecting this could put Australians at risk.

The TAL SpotChecker research found 1 in 5 Australians (19 per cent) have never done a skin self-check, and 38 per cent either have not done a check within the last three months or cannot remember when they last did one.

A woman with a concerning mole on her arm which needs to be removed

Personal responsibility is a key factor, and in the early stages of skin cancer development, you have the best chance of noticing changes in your skin, so self-checking is a simple but powerful way to look after yourself and could save your life.

This could be a new spot or an existing freckle or mole that changes in size, shape, or colour over time. By developing a regular habit of looking out for these red flags, you can take action when something out of the ordinary first appears.

How often should Aussies get their skin checked by a doctor/dermatologist?

Skin cancer is the one type of cancer that you can typically see, which means you may be able to detect a suspicious mole yourself by monitoring your own skin.

If you do notice anything out of the ordinary during a self-check, you should book an appointment to have it checked by your GP, dermatologist, or a skin cancer clinic.

Visit TAL SpotChecker for more resources, information and tools to stay skin safe all year round.

Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.


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