This month we are shedding light on sun exposure and how it affects our skin. The sun emits harmful UV radiation that has the ability to damage our skin cells leading to skin cancer arising and aged skin. UV stands for ultravoilet light. It is a type of radiation that is produced from the sun, you can not see or feel this type of radiation as it is invisible. This is what makes it all the more dangerous as can’t feel the damage until it is too late.
Vitamin D and Sun
Vitamin D is absolutely vital for bone health and the immune system. It is produced in the skin and is activated by sunlight. We can also get Vitamin D from our food (30% of our vitamin D is sourced this way). In Australia, we will typically get enough Vitamin D from incidental sun exposure. In summer, a few minutes in the morning or late afternoon just to the arms and hands of sun exposure is adequate enough to give us the desired Vitamin D levels.
When the UV rating is below 3 for you do not need to wear sun protection. When this UV rating reaches above 3, its absolutely vital to wear sun protection. The UV index does change throughout the day but a 50+ sunscreen should be put on everyday regardless. The UV rating can be checked on the Australian bureau of meteorology website under the forecast. Its also important to clear up a myth that wearing sunscreen prevents vitamin D absorption. There have been many many studies done to let us know that this is indeed false. There is no affect on our vitamin D levels with sunscreen usage which means you have no reason not to wear sunscreen.
If you are worried about your vitamin D levels its best to book into see one of our GPs who can assess whether supplements will be best for you. Its better to do this as opposed to spending more time in the sun and running the risk of developing skin cancer, especially ones in which are serious life threatening ones like melanoma.
Everyone that lives in Australia runs the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate it effects even dark or Asian skin. Those with fairer skin who burn quicker are always going to be at a higher risk though.
How often your skin should be checked and sun protection must know facts.
It is common sense to have your skin checked professionally by someone who has been trained in skin cancer checks about once a year (can be sooner for those who are more at risk due to family history and fairer skin). We have two doctors on site who have been trained in dermoscopy and are able to diagnose and help manage any skin cancer issues.
The 4 key sun protection must haves are
- A SPF 50+ sunscreen reapply every-time you get out of the water or after exercise. If you’ve sweated a lot its time to re apply the sunscreen. Sunscreen should go on before any outdoor activity/ before you leave the house (UV can still get through your car windows).
- Broadbrim Hat 10cm (other hats are okay as well but be mindful that some only protect the forehead and the nose and back of neck alongside other areas can still burn)