Did you know that spring is an opportune time for important skin checks? There are a few reasons why, and a few more reasons why skin checks are so important for Australians.
In short, getting a skin check in spring allows doctors to inspect your skin before the sun has already done some damage, ensuring you know your skin’s health before summer, and typically, spring sees shorter waiting times.
But there’s more to it.
To find out all you need to know, including:
- The benefits of skin checks in spring
- Top tips on protecting your skin over the sunny months
We’ve called on Dr Kiran Shrestha.
Dr Kiran Shrestha has over 10 years’ experience as a doctor and has extra skills in Skin Cancer Medicine and Dermoscopy, along with an Advanced Certificate in Skin Cancer Surgery.
Dr Shrestha has acquired expertise in various procedures including biopsies, excisions, skin grafts and flaps, cryotherapy, and topical treatment for skin cancer.
The benefits of skin checks in spring
Spring offers a number of benefits for people considering skin checks.
1. Better access to your skin
Skin checks rely on a doctor’s ability to view your skin clearly which gives the best chance of detecting something suspicious. Lighter clothing in warmer weather makes this easier.
“The most accurate and timely skin checks occur when a patient’s skin is not concealed”, explains Dr Shrestha. “Make sure you remove fake tans as much as possible.”
“After the winter months your skin is much less sun-affected than it might be during summer so we can get a clearer view of any spots and blemishes.”
2. There’s also the preventative point as Dr Shrestha adds
“With the sunny weather not far off, a skin check in spring can help you understand the health level of your skin and your risk of skin cancer.
“In other words, patients can find out how to manage sun exposure to safer levels, how to use extra protection such as sunscreen and shading.
“Basically, a skin check in spring can help you prepare for the summer ahead.”
That’s a big benefit in Australia as we have some sobering statistics around sun damage:
- More than two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime
- Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world
- Medicare records show there were over a million treatments for squamous and basal cell carcinoma skin cancers in 2018 – that’s more than 100 skin cancer treatments every hour
Find more skin cancer facts and stats by Sun Smart here.
3. Shorter waiting times
There’s a general trend in Australia that sees skin checks gain popularity around mid to late summer, and while getting one at this time can be hugely beneficial, it leaves other times of the year quieter.
You can often find shorter wait times when booking skin checks in spring, especially early in the season.
4. Post-winter assessment
After the winter months, a spring skin check allows you to assess any changes or damage that may have occurred during the colder season, such as dryness or sunspots, and address them promptly.
Winter can leave some people with dryer skin which a skin check can help assess and determine treatments if needed.
Additionally, if you have skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, a skin check in spring can help assess how these conditions have fared during the winter and help in managing them effectively.
Top tips on protecting your skin over the sunny months
With summer fast approaching, and a hot, dry one likely now El Nino is declared for Australia, skin protection can be a life saver.
Take note of these top tips from Dr Shrestha.
ONE: Check the UV Index
Before heading outdoors, check the UV index for your location. The BOM forecast offers this information and tells you when sun protection is recommended. Remember that cloudy days are the sneakiest of all as UV damage is not blocked by most clouds.
TWO: Always apply sunscreen
If you spend time outdoors, ensure all exposed skin is covered with sunscreen that is reapplied following the directions on the pack, particularly if you’re swimming or sweating a lot.
You’ll also lose a lot of water during time in the sun, so keep hydrated. Doing so is a no-brainer and replaces moisture in your skin too.
THREE: Stay shaded if possible
Wearing a hat, covering skin with cotton clothing, or staying in the shade of buildings, trees or an umbrella is your best protection against sun damage.
FOUR: Be Aware of Reflective Surfaces
Be cautious around surfaces that can reflect sunlight, such as water, sand, and even building surfaces as they can intensify sun exposure and increase the risk of sunburn, even reaching up under your hat.
Reflection from sand is a big one, so applying sunscreen under your nose and below your eyebrows (obviously keeping it out of your eyes) is a nifty trick.
FIVE: Protect Your Lips
Apply lip balm with at least SPF 15 to protect your lips from sunburn and chapping. Lips can sometimes be forgotten when it comes to sun protection, but they can burn just as easily as other areas.
Lip balm also helps keep lips hydrated and healthy.
SIX: Stay Informed About Medications You May Be Taking
Certain medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any medications as some can cause problems in harsh sun.
SEVEN: Avoid Sunburn Remedy Myths
In the event of sunburn, avoid using home remedies like butter or oil, which can trap heat and worsen the burn. Cool the burn with cold running water as long as tolerated. Never use ice on a burn as it drives the heat deeper.
Instead, use over-the-counter sunburn relief products with aloe vera or cooling agents. Consult a professional for severe cases.
EIGHT: Apply Sunscreen
You can’t overdo sunscreen so please don’t go out without it
Remember, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, even on cloudy days. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating when playing sports for example.
In summary: Skin checks in spring
“While spring is an ideal time to get a skin check, it can’t be understated how important skin checks are regardless of the season—or your lifestyle, or complexion, gender, or anything else.” Says Dr Shrestha.
Skin checks are crucial in determining not only the health of your skin, but also your risk of anything serious.
Early detection massively improves the chances of successful treatment when it comes to skin cancer, one of Australia’s most prevalent diseases.
If it’s been a while since your last skin check, book an appointment today.