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Get Protection!

The Slip, Slop, Slap advertisements have been one of the most successful campaigns, warning both Australians and international tourists about the dangers of the Australian sun.

Sun protection is important in Australia, as the UV radiation can cause skin cancers. A UV Alert is broadcasted every day by the Bureau of Meteorology and identifies the times of day when the UV level is 3 or above. At this level, sun protection is needed.

The Slip, Slop, Slap campaign emphasised the steps to protect your skin, adding 2 more steps for complete protection:

  • Slip on clothing ? covering up as much as possible in the sun.
  • Slop on SPF 30 or above 20 minutes before going outside and reapply regularly.
  • Slap on a hat to give your head, face, neck and ears added protection.
  • Seek shade when you are outdoors, as this reduces your exposure to damaging UV rays.
  • Slide on a pair of sunglasses ? wraparound ones are best to protect your eye areas.

Slip on clothing: Wearing light-weight clothing that covers as much exposed skin as possible helps protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Considering both the style and the weave of the clothing is an important factor for sun protection.

Clothing with a collar, long sleeves, trousers or a long skirt cover the most skin areas and give the most protection. Materials that are tightly woven provide better sun protection than loosely woven fabrics, and darker colours give more protection than lighter colours.

You can buy clothing that is specially marked with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The UPF indicates the level of protection provided by the clothing ? the higher the number the better the protection, with 50 or above indicating maximum protection.

Slop on sunscreen: Sunscreen alone is not sufficient protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Even though sunscreen contains chemicals that either absorb or reflect UV rays, it needs to be reapplied regularly and other forms of protection used as well.

Broad spectrum sunscreens filter out both UVB and UVA radiation ? both of which are harmful to our skin. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) label on sunscreen indicates the strength of the sunscreen ? not how long you can stay in the sun.

Choosing sunscreen ? The higher the SPF, the better the protection. Look for SPF 30 and above and also use a broad spectrum sunscreen. And whilst SPF 50+ filters out about 98% of the UV rays, it must be applied frequently to be of use.

Sunscreens also come in different formulas ? milk, lotion or creams ? so select a sunscreen that suits your skin type best. Don’t forget to check the expiry date on the sunscreen and store it under 25oC.

Sunscreen application ? Make sure you apply sunscreen liberally on your skin, at least 20 minutes before going outside. Apply as you would a moisturiser to your skin making sure your skin is well covered. It is recommended that you reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after you have been swimming.

Remember that none of the sunscreens provide complete protection against the sun’s harmful rays ? so reapplication is important - as is wearing protective clothing.

Nanoparticles in sunscreens ? Used in sunscreens for many years now, nanoparticles are considered safe. There has been much research on the topic and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)of Australia reviewed their use in sunscreens during 2013. They found no current evidence for concerns regarding the use of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in sunscreens.

Slap on a hat:Hats that protect you from the sun’s harmful rays need to provide plenty of shade to your face, neck and ears ? common areas for skin cancers to form. Wear a hat made from a closely woven fabric and one of the recommended styles ? broad brimmed hats, bucket hats or legionnaire hats.

Seek shade: Look for shade as much as possible when outdoors. Trees, pergolas and buildings all provide lots of shade, but be careful of UV radiation being reflected back off hard surfaces ? such as the ground, walls or buildings. You might think that you are well shaded, but you might not be receiving as much protection as youthink.

So don’t rely on shade to keep you safe ? make sure you use sunscreen and wear protective clothing as much as possible.

Slide on sunglasses: Many people forget that their eyes can be damaged by UV rays. Persistent sun damage can cause the lens in your eye to turn yellow and to form cataracts. Skin cancers can form on the eyelids, the retina can suffer degenerative changes, and there can be problems with the conjunctiva and the cornea.

It is important that you protect your eyes and the area surrounding your eyes with wraparound sunglasses that fit close to your face. These types of sunglasses provide maximum protection to the eye area ? especially at the sides of the eye where many sunglasses allow sunlight to filter in.

Even sunglasses are given an Eye Protection Factor (EPF) which indicates how much UV protection they provide. Rated from 1 to 10, sunglasses with an EPF of 10 provide almost 100% protection. It is important to note that sunglasses sold within Australia must meet the Australian Standard ? AS/NZS 1067:2003.

Make sure you read the mandatory labelling on sunglasses before you buy them. Look for the AS/NZS compliance, EPF rating and also for the protection category ? from 0 to 4 ? with 0 and 1 for fashion sunglasses and 2 to 4 providing different levels of sun protection.

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Friday October 31st 2014 | Mike |