How a routine spot-check could help keep your skin safe and glowing this summer

Dec 10, 2023
Recent research shows that Australians are still not taking saun safety seriously. Source: Getty Images

Summer is well and truly here. Some people, particularly those in regional and rural areas, are bracing for heatwaves, record-breaking temperatures, and bushfires. In other parts of the country, Australians are more concerned with working on their tans at the beach.

Wherever people are and whatever they’re up to, there is one thing that most Australians will share in common this summer: a very concerning disregard for sun safety. New research has revealed that most Australians are vulnerable to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation due to a lack of proactive, preventative skin safety habits.

Life insurance company TAL has run the TAL SpotChecker program for eight years now. The program aims to educate Australians about the importance of sun safety and preventing skin cancer. It emphasises the importance of regularly self-checking for potential skin cancer followed by professional skin checks when there is a concern.

This year, the program has conducted research into how Australians value the importance of protecting their skin from  cancer. Of those surveyed, 83 per cent said that it was important to them. Despite this statistic however, 72 percent said that they need to do more to protect themselves against skin cancer. Moreover, 69 per cent they should be self-checking their skin for early signs of skin cancer more frequently.

Dr Priya Chagan, TAL’s General Manager of Health Services, says there is a persistent disconnect between people’s skin safety intentions and their actions. Not nearly enough people take tangible steps to prevent or reduce the impact of skin cancer.

73 per cent of those surveyed want to set a good example for their loved ones and encourage them to take the right measures to protect themselves from the sun. Key motivators for this included preventing sunburn, reducing skin cancer, and concerns about their skin health.

However, at the same time, 70 per cent also admitted that they are not nearly as protective as they should be. Less than half (43 percent) include sun safety as a part of their daily routines.

Close to half (46 per cent) rarely or never check the UV levels before spending time outdoors, while just over a third (34 per cent) don’t regularly check the temperature before spending time outdoors.

“Many of us have become complacent around sun safety, so it is crucial that we practice positive habits to protect ourselves from the sun this summer including adequate sunscreen use, seeking shade where possible, and wearing protective clothing,” said Dr Chagan.

So what’s the solution?

“Slip, Slop, Slap” is still solid advice but many Australians have reached the point where this may not be sufficient. Regular “spot-checks” for skin cancer, where people examine their skin for moles, lumps, and marks that may potentially be cancerous are desperately needed.

“We know from the TAL SpotChecker research that year-on-year Australians are slowly becoming more adept in self-checks but there are still 1 in 5 Australians (19%) who have never done a self-check of their skin, and 38% who either have not done a check within the last three months or cannot remember when their last one was,” said Dr Chagan.

For those who find a particularly concerning mole or mark, a follow-up from a professional such as a GP is needed. Find out more from the Cancer Council about skin cancer here.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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