Since January is known as Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the CANSA organisation put together some tips on how to prevent the illness, symptoms, how sunscreen should be used and the type of clothing that need to be used during these weathers.
Residents should stay out of the sun between 10am and 3pm and stay in the shade or under a UV-protected umbrella as much as possible.
They should wear protective clothing including broad brimmed hats (rather than caps) and UV-protected swimwear (including swimming shirts). Sunglasses with a UV protection rating of UV400 also help.
Apply sunscreen regularly according to your skin type. Look out for sunscreens that have the CANSA Sun Smart Seal of Approval as you can be sure that these will effectively block harmful rays if applied (and re-applied) correctly.
People should avoid sunbeds and sunlamps, contrary to popular belief; these are not a safer way to get a tan. They are just as dangerous as the sun.
Check your moles regularly according to the ABCDE guidelines. Any moles that concern you should be discussed with your doctor as soon as possible.
One of the symptoms of skin cancer include a change in a mole which is one of the most common symptoms of malignant melanoma (one of the most virulent types of skin cancer), which is why it is important to check these regularly.
Other symptoms include a sore that does not heal, a new growth, spread of pigment (colour) from the border of a spot to surrounding skin, redness or a new swelling beyond the border, change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain, change in the surface of a mole, scaling, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule.
About 80 percent of sun damage to skin occurs before the age of 18 years but the effects only manifest later in life.
Two blistering sunburns before the age of 18 years can significantly increase the risk of developing melanoma as an adult.
It is thus extremely important to protect children from the sun and ensure that they do not burn red. Babies under one year should never be exposed to direct sunlight.
Sunscreen should be applied liberally on all exposed areas on a daily basis, not just when on the beach or at the pool. When you are outdoors, sunscreen should be reapplied liberally (onto dry skin) at least every two hours.
Many people think that only light-skinned people can get skin cancer.
This is not true. While darker skinned people do have more natural protection against the sun due to the higher levels of melanin in their skin, they can still develop skin cancer if they are not adequately protected.
Information supplied by Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)