Protect your skin this summer

At least two in three Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70. Skin cancer is one of the most expensive of cancers for the Australian Healthcare system, but also one of the most preventable. 

 

UFS Pharmacist, Bronwyn, answers some common questions in relation to sunscreen.

What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF relates to the length of time it takes for redness to appear on the skin compared to when no product is used at all. The SPF number is only a guide to a sunscreen’s protection. How long someone takes to burn depends on the time of day, time of year, amount of UV reflection and their skin type.

What does broad spectrum mean?
Broad spectrum sunscreens offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays, the two types of harmful ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.

How often should I reapply sunscreen?
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside and again at least every two hours to keep you protected. Sunscreen can be easily wiped off or lost through perspiration. Always reapply after swimming or water sports.

How much sunscreen should I use?
For an adult, the recommended application is 5mL (approximately one teaspoon) for each arm, leg, body front, body back and face (including neck and ears). This equates to a total of 35mL (seven teaspoons) for a full body application. Many Australians apply too little sunscreen.

Is sunscreen enough?
Sunscreen is never to be used as the only line of defence against sun damage. Whenever the UV index is above 3, be sure to:

  • Slip on sun-protective clothing
  • Slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses that meet Australian Standards

Which sunscreen should I use?
Sunscreen is available in creams, lotions, milks and gels and not all sunscreens contain the same ingredients. Speak to your UFS Pharmacist to find one that best suits your skin type.

How long can you keep sunscreen?
Check the expiry date and storage conditions on the label. Most sunscreens last about two to three years. They should be stored at a temperature below 30°. If sunscreens are out of date or have not been stored appropriately, they may not work as well.

Can I put sunscreen on my baby?
The Australasian College of Dermatologists state that babies less than six month of age absorb more chemicals applied to the skin than adults, the widespread regular use of sunscreens is not recommended. Ensure that babies are protected from the sun by shade, protective clothing and a hat.