Today marks the 2021 Winter Solstice, and we are loving these cooler days! Without the scorching summer heat, it is even more enjoyable to stay outdoors for longer periods of time.
Many of us do not instinctively take the necessary protective measures that we do in summer. Unfortunately, North Queensland’s UV index during the winter months remains higher than 3. This means the sun’s rays can be just as damaging in winter as they are in summer!
After a recent James Cook University that followed children into adolescence and adulthood for 20 years, it’s important for parents in particular to take steps to remain vigilant with their children’s sun protection.
The study revealed that sun exposure without protection during childhood is a major contributing factor to developing skin cancer in adulthood. Children with greater unprotected sun exposure developed more moles. The more moles a child had, the greater their risk was of developing melanoma as young adults. It was also found that children who were sunburned before the age of seven had a higher risk of developing melanoma. Continuing to implement critical sun safety measures during the winter period is the most effective form of prevention.
We recently had a chat with local mother of three, Karissa Robinson. Karissa was shocked to learn of these grim statistics and says it is a harsh reminder of the risks associated with living in the skin cancer capital of the world.
“It is very easy to get tricked by the cooler weather into thinking the sun is hibernating, however, I now know that’s not the case,” explains Karissa.
“During winter, my family certainly take advantage of the drop in temperature and often find ourselves spending longer periods of time outside at the park, sporting games and the Strand.
“This is an important message that reinforces how critical it is to ensure children are protected, not just in the summer months, but all year round.”
Our top tips for sun protection year-round are:
- Choose a sunscreen that is SPF30 or higher that protects both against UVA and UVB
- Apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors – it takes this long to become fully effective. If you’re applying your sunscreen once you’re at the beach or on your job site, the damage has already started
- Apply sunscreen to any exposed skin including your face, ears, neck, chest, arms, legs, feet and hands
- Reapply every four hours and after swimming or sweating.