Myths about sunscreen

Australia and New Zealand are exposed to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and have the highest rates of melanoma in the world, so you’d think we’d be sun safety experts. Apparently not.

A study has revealed that two in three Aussies are ignorant of basic sun smart practices.

Did you know that the sun can begin to burn your skin in just 15 minutes? According to a nationwide survey commissioned by Entity Health, 25 per cent of people in their thirties did not. Respondents instead falsely believed that sitting in the sun for 30 minutes without sunscreen wasn’t harmful to their skin.  

Just 10 per cent of over-50s realised that drinking alcohol while in the sun increases your risk of skin damage. Alcohol increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, making you more vulnerable to harm.

How much stronger do you think SPF 50+ sunscreen is than SPF 30+ sunscreen? Of the 1008 respondents, one third falsely thought that wearing SPF 50+ sunscreen allows you to stay out in the sun for longer. SPF 30+ sunscreen filters out 96.7 per cent of UV radiation, while SPF 50+ filters out 98 per cent, meaning there is only a slight difference between the two.

Teri Lichtenstein, consulting dietitian at Entity Health, said, “It’s concerning to see the significant number of Aussies who aren’t aware of factors that cause damage to their skin, particularly as we are at the time of year where being outdoors is at its highest. Many forms of skin damage and cancer are preventable, but it comes down to being aware of what is harmful to the skin.”

When it comes to dealing with sunburn, over-50s are the most sensible group – though that’s not saying much. Only 10 per cent said they would avoid sun exposure in the days following a burn. Shockingly, only four per cent of those under 30, seven per cent of those in their thirties and eight per cent of those in their forties agreed.

Do any of these results shock you? Do you think Australia needs a fresh wave of the slip slop slap campaign?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Liv Gardiner

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