Australians love the sun, but it could literally be the death of them. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer and melanomas, with 2 out of 3 Australians diagnosed before they reach 70. The Australian sun is not your friend, but you can still take measures to keep yourself safe.
Stay in the Shade
Sunlight comes with harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which ages your skin and increases your risk of skin cancer. Avoiding the sun is the best way to avoid UV radiation, but you can’t stay indoors most of the day. While staying under the shadows of buildings isn’t that bad an idea, you can also bring a bit of shade with you. Wear a hat, cover those legs with pants, and wear a long-sleeved shirt. A layer of clothing should be enough to protect you from UV damage.
If the sun is particularly scorching, bring an umbrella with you. You can buy UV umbrellas from stores, but any dark-colored umbrella should suffice. Don’t let cloudy skies fool you; cumulus clouds (the ones that look like cotton) increase UV concentrations by up to 40 percent.
Venturing into the sun is sometimes unavoidable, and it’s in those times you use sunscreen. Properly applied, sunscreen can block most of the effects of UV radiation. The higher the SPF (sun protection factor), the higher the protection, but even the most basic sunscreen can block more than 90 percent of UV.
Sunscreen takes a bit of time to set, so apply it a few minutes before going out into the sun. You’ll get a couple of hours of protection — less if you engage in activities that make you sweat or you get exposed to water (swimmers take note). You might need to reapply often, so bring an extra bottle just in case.
Protect Your Home and Vehicles
You might be diligent enough to put on sunscreen whenever you go out, but what about when you stay indoors? Large glass windows and doors are made to let in sunlight, and along with sunlight comes UV. Get your house tinted with UV-filtering film. If you choose a transparent film, you probably won’t notice the difference.
Once you’re done making your house safe, do the same for your vehicles. Australians develop more melanomas on the right side of their bodies, and driving has been proven to be the cause. Your car’s windshield has UV protection, but the rest of your vehicle doesn’t. Drive it to a shop and have it tinted with UV film. It should take less than a couple of hours to make your daily drives free of UV.
Skin cancer and melanomas might sound scary, but they are easily treated if detected early. Check your body for unusual growth or discoloration (moles, persistent pimples, or small birthmark-like patches). If you think you might be at risk, head to a clinic that offers diagnostics and get a punch biopsy. Treatments for skin cancers and melanomas are relatively safe, requiring little to no hospitalization.
In the Australian heat, sun safety should be everyone’s concern. Consciously take measures to protect yourself from the sun, and don’t hesitate to have yourself checked.