Last week I was invited to have my skin checked at The Skin Clinic Fremantle. I need to confess, I’ve never had my moles checked before and I honestly hadn’t thought about doing so.
Fact: 2 out of 3 Australians will develop some sort of skin cancer during their lifetime, more than 90% are caused by exposure sun and melanoma is the third most common life threatening cancer in both men and women.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous at the thought but when I walked in and was greeted by two gorgeous ladies at the front desk my nerves seemed to settle.
Whilst Dr Sarah Boxley was checking my moles I decided to use the opportunity to pepper the poor Dr with as many sun related questions as I could. I’ve always relied on my general knowledge of slip, slop, slop and commonsense but there were some very interesting answers to some of my questions and now I want to share them with you.
How much Vitamin D do we need to be healthy and if we put sun-block on all the time are we likely to not get enough? It’s the general rumour about a lack of vitamin B. It’s highly unlikely in Australia. By just getting 5 minutes of sun on your face, chest or back 2 to 3 times per week you will get the amount of Vitamin D needed to be healthy and sunscreen is not enough to stop the body from absorbing Vitamin D. It’s for this reason that we should still be putting sunblock on our kids at school during the colder months.
How quickly does our skin become damaged by the sun? For a fair skinned, blue eyed blondes, it only takes 4 to 6 minutes in the sun on an average day in Perth for our skin to start becoming skin damaged. By the time your skin is red it’s already damaged.
What does this mean for skin cancer and anti-ageing? UVA counts for about 40% of skin cancers and is responsible in most part for the ageing process. UVA comes through the clouds and through the glass. So think about how much UV you are absorbing whilst doing everyday things, like driving your car.
Is applying foundations with SPF in it everyday enough to be protecting our skin from sun damage? It depends what base the SPF has. If it’s an SPF 30 that is not zinc based eg: OLAY then no, the SPF is degraded by sunlight. If the SPF is zinc or titanium based like most mineral foundations then it is fine as the Zinc stops the UV being absorbed by our skin. The best daily routine would be to put a zinc based SPF moisturiser on followed by a mineral foundation with an SPF factor of 30.
When should we come in for our first check? In your early 20’s and then every 2 years after that unless there is something that is prompting you to come in for a check. Above the age of 30 it’s not necessarily normal for your skin to grow another mole so it’s important to keep an eye out for any new growth. It doesn’t need to be brown, it could be a flesh coloured lump that comes up, something that looks like a pimple that wont go away or flat, pink, scaly patch of skin. These are what you should be looking for.
The older I get, the more aware I become of the dreaded C word. As time creeps on our priorities and worry’s change. Things bother us that were never even a thought before.
It’s not the time to worry or be crazy about it but it is the time to be smart, be aware and know your body.
For more information or to make an appointment to have your skin checked you can find Dr Sarah Boxley at The Skin Clinic Fremantle.