There's more to your skin health than SPF

Were you aware that research indicates that if you were severely sunburnt as a child, your risk of developing a melanoma later in life rises by 80 per cent?

There are good reasons you should be following the all-important ‘slip, slop, slap’ guidelines.

It’s probably of little surprise that the incidence of all skin cancers increases the longer you expose yourself to the sun, but that doesn’t mean those of you living in cloudy areas are off the hook.

“Sunscreen helps but isn’t sufficient on its own,” says associate professor Jonathan Stretch from the Melanoma Institute of Australia. “You’ve also got to have physical barriers like clothing and spend time in the shade.

You family history is also a risk factor you should be aware of when it comes to skin protection in the sun.

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There are three main types of skin cancer — melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basil cell carcinoma, the most serious of which is melanoma.

Melanoma can grow very quickly and can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of your body. What’s most concerning is that it can appear on skill that is not normally exposed to the sun.

When it comes to skin cancer there are five letters you should remember that could help save your life:

A = asymmetry

B = border

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C = colour

D = diameter

E = evolving.

Stretch says if you have anything on your skin that is new or has changed in its appearance in any way, you should get it looked at quickly.

Research breakthroughs in recent years have tripled the life expectancy of people with advanced melanoma. TheMelanoma Institute of Australia says treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted molecular therapy.

Naturally the best way to avoid sunburn is to minimise your exposure to the sun during the middle of the day when the UV levels are at their most intense. Seek shade; wear a hat that covers your head, neck and ears; when possible where sun protective clothing; and always wear sunscreen.

Were you a fan of soaking up the sun in your youth? Have you been affected by skin cancer as you’ve gotten older?