Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Jan 2, 2024 | Articles

Sun Care During the Festive Season with Thokozani Khambule Responsible Pharmacist at Scotts Corner Pharmacy (Sky City)

Sunburn can occur within fifteen minutes, and the damage caused is permanent, irreversible and adds up with each exposure to the sun.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and SA has one of the highest monitored ultraviolet (UV) levels in the world, resulting in one of the highest skin cancer rates globally. UV radiation is just as dangerous for outdoor labourers, sports people, on the playground or when driving to work, as it is when at the beach or pool. Rays can also reflect off surfaces and cause sunburn when it is overcast.

It’s getting hotter, so advise your patients to be SunSmarter!

Q: What is the best thing a patient can do to prevent sunspots and aging?

A: The best way to prevent sunspots and ageing is by limiting your exposure to UVA & UVB rays!

• This can be attained by avoiding sun between 10am to 3pm.

• Apply sunscreen before going outdoors.

• Cover your skin with clothes.

All these will prevent direct invasion of your skin by UVA & UVB rays that speed up production of melanin in your skin that then clumps up due to high production concentration.

Q: What is the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?

A: Sunscreen – “Screens” (filters) the sun’s rays before reaching your skin, i.e. it absorbs UV rays before your skin does.

Sunblock- “Blocks” the sun’s rays from penetrating the skin by forming a physical barrier or reflector.

Q: What are some best practices around application?

A: Cover all your skin that clothing does not cover 15-30 minutes before exposure, apply enough sunscreen to give a visible layer, let it dry and reapply after swimming or sweating and toweling.

Q: What SPF should a patient aim for, and how often should they reapply?

A: SPF 30 or higher i.e. 97-99 % protection from UV rays. It should be reapplied every 2 hours.