Dialog Box


How To Save Your Skin This Summer

December 12, 2016

Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc consultant dermatologist, Dr Alvin Chong, recently spoke to 774 ABC Melbourne about the importance of a complete sun protection routine going into the summer holidays.


After over 20 years of sun protection campaigns in Australia, Dr Chong said dermatologists were starting to see a drop in the number of young skin cancer patients.


Despite this great news, Dr Chong said there was still plenty Australians could be doing to improve their skin care routine and limit their exposure to the sun's dangerous UV rays. 


Dr Chong advised that there are a number of steps we must take to protect our skin from sun damage and that simply slapping on some sunscreen at the start of the day wouldn't cut it. 


"You have to remember that you can't just do one thing," Dr Chong told ABC presenter, Andy Bellairs. 


"What people are sometimes doing is just putting a little bit of sunscreen on and then spending all day in the sun without reapplying, without putting a hat on, and without putting clothing on and, the next thing they know, they've been burnt."


Dr Chong said we must carefully follow all five of the Sunsmart steps - slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide - if we're to prevent sun damage.


"What you need to do is prepare by putting the sunscreen on 10 or 15 minutes before you go out, " Dr Chong said.


"If you're going to wear clothing, make sure it's long-sleeved if possible and definitely wear a hat."


Dr Chong said we need to apply more sunscreen, more frequently.


"It is the technique of applying sunscreen that is important," Dr Chong said.


"We recommend using a fair amount of it - about a teaspoon to cover your whole face - and it needs to be applied every two hours."


Recent studies have revealed a decline in the rate of hat-wearing in Australia.


"A lot of people are getting sunburnt on the face, the nose and the ears," Dr Chong said. 

"These are areas where skin cancers develop."


Dr Chong also discussed how sun protection messaging is slowly changed the way Australian's think about a "healthy tan".


"I remember 25 years ago there was a study conducted, which looked at the darkness of tan being advertised - this was in the era of reef tan, so these people on the ads would look chocolate brown," Dr Chong said.


"Now the idea of a tan is not that intense, it's actually a lighter brown."


Dr Chong said that, while Australians are shifting away from desiring an intense tan, there is still a disconnect between what is portrayed as a "healthy" tan in the Australian media and what doctors consider healthy.


Listen to Dr Alvin Chong discuss all things sun protection, including skin cancer warning signs and what to expect when you see your doctor for a skin check, on 774 ABC Melbourne.



Dr Chong's Advice for Your Summer Holiday Sun Protection


#1 - It's not enough to just apply a bit of sunscreen in the Morning

"You can't just do one thing," says Dr Chong.


"If you have a look at the five Sunsmart rules - slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses - they need to be done in combination.


Dr Chong says he has seen too many Australians with burns because they don't follow a complete sun protection routine.


"And then they say, 'well we put on sunscreen', but that's not enough," says Dr Chong.


A common mistake many people make is incorrectly storing their sunscreen or using out of date sunscreen.


"Don't put sunscreen in a hot car," say Dr Chong.


"The heat deactivates the sunscreen and makes it a lot less effective." 


Learn more about how sunscreen protects your skin


#2 - Sun protective clothing is important

Dr Chong says, if possible, you should always cover your skin with long-sleeved clothing.


The type of material your clothes are made of can also make a huge difference. The higher the sun protective rating of the material the better.


#3 - Not every hat protects your face, ears and neck


"You have to wear a broad-brimmed hat," says Dr Chong.


"A cap is really cool and it kind of covers the middle of your face but it leaves your temples and neck exposed."


Dr Chong said he sees a lot of sun damage on the side of golfers' faces if they have chosen to wear a cap instead of a broad-brimmed hat.


#4 - It's never too late to start sun protection

"What we know is that your skin has a memory, so sun damage tends to accumulate," says Dr Chong.


"The best time to have started sun protection was yesterday and the next best time is today."

Category: Media Coverage
Tags: ABC 774, Dr Alvin Chong, skin checks, summer, sun protection, sunscreen,
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