Sun protection warning for Queenslanders

There’s more to sun safety than slip, slop, slap.

Most Queenslanders know to “slip, slop, slap” when spending time in the sun but Queensland University of Technology (QUT) skin cancer researchers have urged Australians to consider the quality of their sun protection.

QUT Senior Project Manager Dr Elke Hacker said people could overestimate the amount of sun protection they received from clothing or partially shaded areas.

“If the hat or umbrella are of lightly woven material the UV rays can sneak in and burn,” Dr Hacker said.

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“Sunburn, even slight redness, is skin damage and each time our skin is damaged it increases the risk for skin cancer.

“Always choose a hat that doesn’t have gaps or holes in the material, preferably one with an Australian sun-safety standard.

“Even a tree mightn’t be offering much shade protection if the branches are leaves are sparse.”

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Dr Hacker said eye protection was essential during winter or when in the shade.

“Wear Australian-standard sunglasses and generously applied SPF 50+ sunscreen – water-resistant sunscreen is a must in the pool or ocean,” she said.

“Even in the shade – water, concrete, light tiles, even snow, all reflect UV radiation that can burn skin and eyes.”

Dr Hacker said Queenslanders should use sun protection daily, regardless of whether they intended to be in the sun.

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“A few more pointers to remember are that you can get sunburnt through glass, especially in cars with untinted windows,” she said.

“Tinted windows offer some protection but the front windscreen cannot be tinted and so it is possible to be sunburnt while driving or a passenger.

“Also, sunscreen supplies should be renewed regularly. Sunscreen degrades over time, especially in temperatures more than 30oC. 

“Make sunscreen application a daily habit.”