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Skin protection

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 20 February 2018
Skin protection

Plus, tell-tale signs of when you need a GP to check your skin.

As beach-side residents, we all know the importance of protecting our skin from dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation during summer. After all, overexposure to UV rays while at the beach, playing sports or even visiting fruit farms and wineries can cause wrinkles and skin and eye damage. It can also lead to skin cancer.

In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in every three Australians diagnosed before age 70.

Furthermore, anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer 9.2 per cent of people diagnosed with melanoma are aged under 40, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.The issue is, Australia has the highest UV index in the world, and it's the UV radiation in the sunshine that causes your skin to burn. There is UVA and UVB, which both cause skin damage and increase the risk of developing both common skin cancer and melanoma. However, UVA penetrates your skin much deeper.

When sunburn can occur in as little as 15-minutes and will continue to develop for 24 to 72 hours after exposure to the sun your best form of skin protection is to follow Cancer Council Australia guidelines:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards, or after swimming, exercising or towel drying. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on some sunglasses make sure they meet Australian Standards.

Dos and don'ts of Vitamin D
If you are concerned this method of skin protection will prevent you from meeting your vitamin D requirements don't be.

Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Whole Medicine founder and principal GP, says vitamin D requirements are not as hard to achieve as people think.

"While sun exposure is important for good health, the harms of UV radiation in Australia far outweigh the risks of vitamin D deficiency," she says.
"For most people, adequate vitamin D levels can be reached through regular incidental exposure to the sun."

During summer, when the UV reaches damaging levels, a few minutes of sun exposure on either side of the peak UV periods before 10am and after 3pm is enough to get your vitamin D fix.

When to check your skin
Regularly checking your own skin for changes is essential, while an annual examination by your GP is recommended no matter what your age.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Any crusty, non-healing sores;
  • Small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour;
  • New spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months, especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour.

If you notice any changes, act quickly and don't worry, you're not alone Cancer Council Australia data shows GPs have more than one million patient consultations per year for skin cancer.

To book a skin check at Whole Medicine call 03 5986 4229 or visit our convenient online booking portal. Our doctors are qualified to perform minor skin surgeries including biopsies (removing a small sample of tissue for examination). We also have access to the best specialists, hospitals, procedures and investigations. P.S. Check out the SunSmart App, which lets you know when you do and don't need sun protection, making it easier to be smart about your sun exposure all year round.

P.S. Check out the SunSmart App, which lets you know when you do and don't need sun protection, making it easier to be smart about your sun exposure all year round.

Author: Dr Michelle Woolhouse
About: Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Whole Medicine founder and principal GP, and her team understand the challenges patients face because they have experienced it either as doctors or patients. The practice was founded in 2009 out of a strong desire to redefine whole person care, to include nutrition and environmental medicine, and integrating mind-body techniques. The practice gained a reputation that challenged the traditional way of delivering patient care. Whole Medicine has flourished to become the choice for an inspired Mornington Peninsula community.
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Tags: Skin Health Health and Well Being Family GP

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