Spot checking your friends and family

We are often encouraged to monitor our own skin for new or changing moles which might indicate skin cancer, and many of us are proactive when it comes to sun safety and regular skin checks. But how often do you spot check your friends and family?

In these warmer months, we generally see more of our loved ones as we come together for the holidays and spend more time outdoors bare-skinned without our winter woollies. It's a good opportunity to check on each other.

Many people are too complacent with sun safety, neglecting the age-old message of slip, slop, slap. Sun damage has permanent and irreversible effects, including premature ageing and skin cancer. Around 800,000 skin cancers are diagnosed in Australia each year.

While gathering with family at this time of year, we might notice spots on their back or shoulders that they cannot see for themselves. It's important to encourage our loved ones to get suspicious spots checked early to have the best chance of successful treatment.

What are we looking for? Alert your loved ones if you notice anything on their skin that stands out: a mole you haven't seen before; a freckle that has changed since the last time you saw it; a spot that looks different from the rest or has irregular borders, multiple colours, or is asymmetrical.

Take the opportunity to remind friends and family of the importance of sun-safe habits such as wearing a hat and sunglasses, covering exposed skin, and using SPF30+ sunscreen that is reapplied regularly throughout the day. It's also a great idea to check UV levels before heading outside, even on cool or cloudy days.

Sun damage is mostly preventable and being sun-safe today might save us from premature ageing and skin cancer in the near future.

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Written by National Skin Cancer Centres