The Skin Health Institute’s SOS - Save Our Skin initiative encourages all Australians to take steps to protect their skin this summer.
Here are our top tips to looking after your skin.
1. get your skin checked
If you’ve ever spent time in the sun unprotected, you may be at risk of skin cancer.
The Skin Health Institute recommends you check your skin regularly. Get your partner, a GP or dermatologist to do it for you. Find your nearest dermatologist.
Here are 5 signs that you should definitely get your skin checked, as suggested by A/Prof Greg Goodman, Chief of Surgery at the Skin Health Institute.
You notice a mole that you have not seen before
75% of melanomas are not associated with an existing mole. They arise as a new lesion. Most melanomas occur out of the blue with no pre-existing spot.
You have a mole that has altered its shape
Most spots will grow in a certain controlled fashion. They push in all directions equally. When you have a melanoma it doesn’t do that, it pushes in different directions and often pushes in a single direction producing a lack of symmetry of the spot.
You have a mole that seems to have changed its colour
Melanin is a key colour ingredient of moles and melanomas. Melanin looks different in colour depending on where it is in the depth of the skin. If it’s high up in the skin it looks black, if it’s where it should be (which is the junction between the first and second layers of the skin) it looks brown, and when it’s deeper in the skin it looks blue or even white. If you have a mole with different colours it means the melanin is in layers in the skin it shouldn’t be and that suggests invasion by a melanoma.
You have a mole that has changed its height
Changing the height in a spot over the years usually isn’t a problem. Neither usually is a spot that changes over days. It is a spot that changes over weeks or months that might be an issue. Melanomas that change over this fast time period can produce a rather dangerous bump.
You have a mole that has an uneven border
Most moles behave in certain ways. They are confined and pushed hard in all directions by their neighbouring cells in the first or second layer in the skin. So the edges of the moles can be sharply seen. But if it’s a melanoma it doesn’t obey those rules of being tightly confined and it sends out fingers of melanoma cells that appears as an uneven, ragged border, growing a bit like roots of a tree.
If you are unable to get your skin checked by a GP or a dermatologist, ask your partner or a family member to check your skin for you. Check out our guide to performing a skin check.
The Skin Health Institute offers a corporate skin checks program for companies, government agencies and other organisations. Find out more here.
2. protect your skin from the sun
Remember: UV, not temperature, is responsible for sunburn and skin cancer. Get into the habit of checking the UV rating every day. Download the SunSmart app, or check the Bureau of Meteorology website for daily UV levels. If the UV level is 3 or higher, you need to be wearing sun protection.
Wear broad spectrum, SPF50+ sunscreen, and remember to reapply every 2 hours.
Did you know? Sunscreen loses its effectiveness when it has gone out of date. Remember to check the use-by date of your sunscreen!
Find out more information about sunscreen
Learn about treating sunburn
3. educate YOURSELF AND others
Encourage your family and friends to practise sun safe habits, and join the conversation at #SaveOurSkin on Twitter and Facebook.