Be Sun Smart
It’s summertime in Australia and that means BBQ’s,
cricket and days at the beach. If you are not careful it can also
Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of skin cancer
in the world. More than 430,000 Australians are treated a year for
skin cancers. Of these, over 10,500 new cases of melanoma are
diagnosed. Each year there are around 1850 deaths from melanoma and
non-melanoma skin cancer.
The major cause of skin cancer is too much exposure to
ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Skin can burn in as little
as 15 minutes in the summer sun so it is important to protect your
skin from UV radiation.
Click here for a SunSmart
fact sheet and don’t forget to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and
All fact sheets have been provided by Cancer Council Australia.
Please visit http://www.cancer.org.au or call 13 11 20 for
of the skin to UV rays..
and UVC. UVA causes premature ageing of the skin and contributes to
the development of skin cancer. UVB causes sunburn and skin cancer.
UVC is filtered out by the ozone layer and does not reach the
exposure. They include redness, inflammation, scaling, pain,
swelling, skin tenderness and blisters. If a large part of the body
has been exposed, symptoms such as fever, chills, weakness and
shock may occur.
significantly increase a person’s risk of developing malignant
melanoma later in life
treat cases of severe Sunburn.
- Your Doctor will advise you to stay out of the sun until the
Sunburn has subsided.
- Your Doctor may suggest cold water compresses to relieve the
- Sun exposure causes changes in the skin (commonly referred to
as premature ageing) and leads to the development of moles,
seborrhoeic keratoses, solar kerotoses (sun spots), basal cell
carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas. See your Doctor
if there is any unusual skin condition or spot that has not healed
within four weeks. This includes any lump, sore, ulcer or scaly
patch on the skin, or white patch on the lips. New techniques for
identifying skin cancers include the use of a hand-held microscope
that is run over the body and can detect and take pictures of
suspicious lesions. Regular skin self examination can detect Skin
Cancer in its early stage. Ask your Doctor for advice.
- Avoid eating hot and spicy foods as this can increase the body
temperature and cause the skin to flush which may aggravate the
pain of Sunburn.
- Avoid alcohol as it increases the temperature of the skin and
contributes to fluid loss.
- Fresh salads and fruits are recommended as they are easy to
digest, they have a high water content to help replace lost fluids
and are high in the vitamins and minerals needed for tissue
- Try to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fresh, filtered water
daily to avoid dehydration which is a common consequence of
Sunburn. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are also recommended for
their high vitamin, mineral and fluid contents. Dehydration can
cause; weakness, headache, fever and a rapid heart rate. Try to
give the person with Sunburn plenty of fluids.
- Try to stay in the shade during the day, wear protective
clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. The period
between 10am and 3pm is when the sun’s ulraviolet radiation levels
- Use a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF
(sun protection factor) of 30+. Broad spectrum sunscreens block out
UVA and UVB.
- Apply sunscreen 30 to 60 minutes before going out in the sun –
it takes 30 minutes for sunscreen to bind strongly to the skin.
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more frequently if you have been
swimming, working or exercising outdoors or if you live in a humid
- It is important to apply an adequate amount of sunscreen –
about 20g for one application to the major exposed parts of the
- Remember that UVB rays pass through clouds, fog, 30cm of clear
water and are reflected by snow, sand and bright sky, increasing
- Antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C help to reduce the
severity of Sunburn symptoms.
- The use of PABA in sunscreens is common as it has a proven
protective effect against Sunburn when applied to the skin. Taking
PABA internally may also help to reduce the severity of Sunburn,
however, high doses may be harmful.
- Aloe (Aloe vera) is a herb with succulent leaves. The gel from
these leaves, when applied to sunburned skin, may help to improve
the recovery time of skin damaged by Sunburn.
- Calendula is a herb which may be taken internally or applied to
the skin. Calendula reduces inflammation and has antiseptic and
gentle astringent actions and calendula may help burns to heal more
rapidly. Calendula should not be applied to broken skin and should
be used in a gel or cream form as an ointment or oil-base may
aggravate the Sunburn.
- The best advice to avoid skin damage is to stay out of the sun,
especially between 10am and 3pm.
- Use a SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen on the skin 30 to 60
minutes before exposure to the sun and reapply every 2 hours or
more frequently if you have been swimming, working or exercising
outdoors or if you live in a humid climate.
- Waterproof sunscreens are recommended for swimming and in
situations where you are outdoors and are likely to sweat
.Moisturising sunscreens are available for use every day because UV
damage occurs every time you go into the sun, even on cloudy days.
Ask your Pharmacist about low allergy sunscreens if you have
- Always apply an even coating of sunscreen. All exposed skin
should be covered with special care to lips, nose, ears and scalp.
A special sunscreen lip balm is available.
- If you go out in the sun it is recommended that you wear
protective clothing such as a long sleeved shirt or blouse, a
broad-rimmed hat and sunglasses.
Ask your Pharmacist about protective clothing and UV filter
sunglasses to prevent damage to the eyes. Use sunglasses that are
close fitting, preferably wrap around and have an eye protection
factor of 10.
- Your Pharmacist may suggest pain relief tablets to help lower
high body temperature and ease the pain of Sunburn.
- A cold water compresses applied to the skin will help to
relieve the symptoms.
- Your Pharmacist may recommend a soothing gel e.g aloe vera and
an aftersun moisturiser to relieve the symptoms of Sunburn and to
help the skin to heal.
- Ask your Pharmacist about a suitable pain-relieving spray for