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Company Wellness Solutions
Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer

Embrace sun safety

Each year, on February 4, the focus falls on a day dedicated to raising our awareness of a disease that impacts millions of people worldwide – cancer.

World Cancer Day not only gives us the chance to throw some light on what this disease can do to our bodies, but it also raises awareness of the importance of early detection, prevention, and access to treatment. In South Africa, a land of endless sunshine, skin cancer is a challenge. Because of the high ultraviolet (UV) levels, we have one of the highest skin cancer rates globally. This makes it all the more important for us to take proactive measures to protect ourselves.

Skin cancer: the symptoms

Skin cancer, the most common cancer in the world, can sneak up on anyone. It’s not just a worry for those hanging out at the beach on a hot day. People who work outdoors, those who play a lot of outdoor sports, and kids on the playground are also at risk. Recognising the signs and symptoms early on is the first step to finding and dealing with it before it gets worse. These include:

    • Unusual changes in the skin, such as new moles or changes in existing ones.
    • Itchy or painful skin that doesn’t seem to heal.
    • Ragged or blurred borders, uneven colours, or a spot larger than six millimetres.
    • These signs are not always obvious so make a habit of checking your spots and moles regularly.

How to protect yourself

There are a number of things you can do to proactively prevent skin cancer:

    • Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before you go outdoors, even on a cloudy day. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating.
    • Wear a hat with a wide brim, sunglasses, and light, long-sleeved clothing.
    • Stay in the shade when the sun is at its peak, usually between 10am and 4pm.

Preventing skin cancer

This means making decisions that put the health of your skin upfront:

    • Avoid tanning beds. These beds expose your skin to high levels of harmful UV radiation, which increases the risk of skin cancer.
    • Drink enough water. This keeps your skin healthy – a well-hydrated body is better able to repair skin damage.
    • Give yourself regular self-examinations. It’s a good idea to monitor your skin for changes on a monthly basis. The key to successful treatment is identifying problems early.

Check-ups: how often should you go?

If you can, a regular annual checkup is an excellent way of identifying skin issues before they get out of hand. At the very least, keep an eye on your moles, spots and any marks on your skin, and take action as soon as there are changes.