Sunscreen Is Your Best Protection

18:00' 21-01-2019
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, so protecting your skin from UV (ultraviolet) rays in sunlight is of the greatest importance. UV rays can penetrate clouds and are reflected from shiny surfaces, making them dangerous even on dull days, or in the shade.

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    The UV Index on the daily weather report gives the amount of damaging UV radiation expected when the sun is highest in the sky. A UV Index reading of 6 to 7 means high risk. Normal or low danger is a reading of 0 to 2.

    Health services recommend three methods of protection: a hat, a shirt, and sunscreen. Sunscreen is the most important, because part of you will always be uncovered.

    When choosing sunscreen, look at its SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number. This shows the time it takes for your skin to burn when wearing it. The Cancer Council recommends using SPF30 or higher. SPF30 allows only one thirtieth (3.3%) of UV to reach your skin, so it will take 30 times as long for the UV to burn you.

    There are two types of sunscreen, “chemical” and “physical”. “Chemical” sunscreens are resistant to sweat and water, suitable if you're swimming or playing sport. “Physical” sunscreens contain minerals which reflect and scatter UV radiation away. This is suitable if you are sitting out in the open. They must be applied thickly.

    Sunscreen takes time to absorb into the skin, so put it on at least 20 minutes before you go outside. Every two hours, you should put on more.

    Make sure you use enough sunscreen. The minimum is one teaspoon per limb, one each for your front and back, and one each for the face, neck and ears.

    Sunscreens sold in Australia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure they are safe and effective. Avoid cheap sunscreens, or products bought online from overseas.

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