Despite Australia having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with approximately two in three Australians expected to be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, a shocking 75% of women are either not applying sunscreen, or are doing so ineffectually.
It's why leading community pharmacy brand Discount Drug Stores is launching its Sun and UV Awareness Clinics again from January to March, 2015 so that customers can see how much UV damage has been done to their skin, and can prevent further damage.
'Australia has such a sun-loving, outdoor lifestyle, but we also have a shockingly high prevalence of skin cancers that has risen by 60% from 1982 to 2010," explained Professional Services Manager at Discount Drug Stores, Casey Clark. 'These clinics will make people more aware by showing them just how little UV exposure it takes to do damage."
Ms Clark continued stating that despite the fact that it only takes five sunburns to double a person's risk of skin cancer, many customers are still not stringent in protecting their skin while out in the sun, even if they're only exposed for a short space of time.
'Many people think that a couple of sunburns won't do any serious harm but this is absolutely not the case," she said. 'Not only are they at greater risk of skin cancer but they are also causing premature ageing and sun spots which, while fade, may never go away completely."
Discount Drug Stores' clinics will include a 15 minute consultation with a nurse who will take a photo of the customer's face with a double-exposure camera to reveal how much UV damage has been done to their skin. The customer will then be informed of their results and risks as well as about harmful effects of the sun, including what ultraviolet (UV) rays are, the UV index, and how UV rays damage the skin.
Customers will also be taught about ABCDE skin checks (Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter & Evolution) to ensure they know how to spot the warning signs of skin damage at home, and will be reminded of the importance of seeing their local GP for regular skin checks.
Most importantly though, the clinics will educate customers on the best methods for applying sunscreen in order to ensure optimum protection, with Ms Clark stating that many customers under apply sunscreen or don't apply or reapply at the right times.
'Many people don't realise that you actually need a lot of sunscreen that is at least SPF30+ to protect yourself from UV rays, or that it needs to be applied half an hour before going outside so that it sets in," she said. 'A 250ml tube should only last seven applications."
With experts estimating that there will be almost one million skin cancer treatments a year in 2015, Discount Drug Stores hopes that through arming Australians with fundamental knowledge and resources it will combat this shocking statistic.
Discount Drug Stores' sun awareness clinics will cost $9.95, however customers who spend $20.00 in store on specially selected sun care products will have the fee waived and will also go into the running to win one of 10 $500 gift cards. Bookings are essential.
Discount Drug Stores is a leading discount pharmacy group which commenced operations in late 2001, with the first store opening at Sunnybank in Queensland. Discount Drug Stores is an Australian owned and operated business that strives to make a positive difference to its customers' well being by providing medicines and health care solutions at everyday low prices, with an uncompromising approach towards the delivery of professional health advice and exemplary customer service. The group has now expanded to over 130 store locations Australia wide.
Question: What inspired Discount Drug Stores to launch the Sun and UV Awareness Clinics?
Casey Clark: With Australia having one of the highest skin cancer rates in Australia any awareness that we can raise is a good thing. Also a lot of younger people don't realise the damage that is being caused that will show up later in life.
Question: Why do you think our skin cancer rate is increasingly so dramatically?
Casey Clark: I think that we tend to be leading much busier lives these days whether it being meeting up with friends or making sure the kids are taken care of that we sometimes we forget things, like making sure we put sunscreen on ourselves after the kids are done. Also I think awareness has grown over the years and so perhaps the diagnosis rates have increased because more people are getting checked.
Question: What are the Sun and UV Awareness Clinics?
Casey Clark: These clinics are designed to help customers to be able to actually see damage that the sun is causing to them before it is too late. They are also an educational session to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself from sun damage & early ageing.
Question: How can we book an appointment in the Sun and UV Awareness Clinics?
Casey Clark: You can either call one of our stores to make an appointment or jump online to our new website where the stores clinic dates will be listed there and you can book online.
Question: What machine do you use to show customers just how much UV damage has been done to their skin?
Casey Clark: A special double exposure UV camera is used.
Question: What damage does the machine identify?
Casey Clark: It will identify areas that have had UV damage by showing the accumulated damage due to the sun, so you can address these areas to make sure further damage doesn't occur that may show up later in life.
Question: How will the clinics educate customers on how to prevent further damage?
Casey Clark: The nurse will talk about making sure you are applying sunscreen correctly & enough of it. Most of us don't apply enough sunscreen or understand the importance of applying it 20 minutes before going into the sun, so the nurse will talk through things such as this.
Question: What are the ABCDE skin checks?
Casey Clark: The nurse will have a handy tool to show customers how to do an ABCDE skin check. This stands for Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter & Evolution and is a recognized method of assessing ones skin spots to know if any changes have occurred and when they may need to go see a GP.
Question: How often and when should we apply sunscreen?
Casey Clark: We should be applying a minimum of 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours and we should be applying it at least 20 minutes before going outdoors. We also need to make sure we are applying enough because if you don't then it may only be 50-80% effective, a 250ml bottle of sunscreen should only last you 7 all over body applications.
Interview by Brooke Hunter