The Burning Issue 4

Best Practice for Limiting UV Exposure


Best Practice for Limiting UV Exposure

Sun protection is incredibly important given over 95% of skin cancers are caused by UV rays. While it is assumed that those using our patches do so while at least part of their skin is exposed to the sun (while wearing sunscreen) it would be remiss of us not to cover best practice for minimising UV exposure.


Practice Sun Safety


  • Stay in the shade, especially during the midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.


Or in New Zealand and Australian terms “Slip, Slop, Slap”. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on sunglasses and a hat.


Time of Day


While not always possible, minimising exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the most effective strategy to prevent skin cancer. This includes planning outdoor activities to occur outside of the peak UV period (2 hours either side of solar noon), when an estimated 60% of the day’s UV radiation occurs. Around midday, skin will burn more quickly, and be exposed to more UVA as well as UVB, than earlier or later in the day. Outside of these times, the UV can still be intense, so sun protection is necessary for all times when the UV index is 3 or above.


Seek Shade


You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter. When used with other forms of sun protection, such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, seeking shade becomes a powerful method to reduce UV exposure. In fact, making sure you seek quality shade when outdoors can reduce your exposure to UV radiation by up to 75%.




You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by minimising the amount of skin exposed to the sun. So, for example when at the beach, sun protective tops (Surf Rashies etc) and hats can offer a lot of protection over a lot of skin.


In general, no matter what the situation, clothing and hats are among the simplest and most effective ways to guard your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. They provide a physical block between your skin and the sunlight.




UV exposure also damages the eyes. For example, the World Health Organization estimates that up to 20 percent of cataracts worldwide may be caused by overexposure to UV radiation.


UV exposure is also linked to other eye related damage such as growths on the eye (e.g. pterygium/surfers’ eye), Macular degeneration (loss of vision in the centre of your eye), eye lid cancer and Corneal sunburn.


The easy way to prevent any of these problems is to use good sun protective eyewear.




We’ve covered this one in depth here; however, areas of the body/skin that are exposed to UV should be protected by an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Care should be taken to apply adequate amounts of sunscreen 20 – 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Care should also be taken to reapply sunscreen every two hours.


Monitoring your sunscreen SPF with wearable UV sensors is also a wise idea. Firstly, studies have shown that those who use wearable UV sensors are more conscientious about applying and reapplying sunscreen. Secondly, multiple studies have now shown that most people under apply sunscreen and apply and/or reapply it incorrectly. Thirdly, various factors affect how long any sunscreen will protect you from UV. Wearable UV sensors warn you when your sunscreen is no longer offering enough protection.


Sunscreen Application Tips


Apply sunscreen 20 – 30 minutes prior to going outdoors into direct, intense sunlight

Reapply sunscreen every two hours.

Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher when going outside.

Check the expiration date of your sunscreen to make sure it still has its full efficacy.

Make sure sunscreen is labelled “broad spectrum,” which means it protects against UVA and UVB rays.

Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin areas

Apply adequate amounts of sunscreen to sun exposed skin: Most people (75 – 85 % dependent on study) underapply sunscreen. The SPF rating of a sunscreen is determined using a given amount of sunscreen applied per centimetre square (cm2) of skin. However, studies have determined that most people use less sunscreen than is used in SPF testing, reducing the SPF that sunscreen offers in real world conditions. Sunscreen should be applied at about 2mg/cm2 – e.g. for an average adult, use about enough to fill a shot glass to cover exposed skin at the beach.





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