There is new technology available to help us prevent skin cancer, in the form of skin care patches.
The new skin care patches stick to skin and change colour from clear to purple when dangerous levels of UV have been reached (Moore 2016).
The purple indicator is a result of the skin care patch’s involvement of UV-sensitive dye. This is referred to as the ‘low-tech’ approach to telling you when to apply more sunscreen: the ‘high-tech’ approach involves the patch sending data via Wifi to a smart phone app. (Moore 2016).
The low-tech patches are currently available to be purchased in the United States of America and Canada (Moore 2016).
One cosmetic label has launched their own high-tech sun patch in Australia, available in general pharmacies. The patch is incredibly thin (just half as thick as a strand of hair) and about the size of a 50c coin (B&T Magazine 2016).
It apparently can be worn for nearly a week and can be used in water (B&T Magazine, 2016).
The patch is paired with a smart phone app that measures the user’s UV exposure and apparently even considers other contributing factors, such as GPS, hair colour, eye colour and Ozone levels (B&T Magazine 2016).
The Figures on Skin Cancer and Sun Damage
If you are unfortunate like me, you have probably been sunburnt several times in your lifetime. Maybe even when you think that you’ve been careful and ‘sunsmart’!
According to the Brisbane Times (Moore 2016), 72% of 18 to 24 year old Queenslanders report that they have been sunburnt.
Did you know that 95% of melanomas (the most deadly skin cancer form) are reportedly caused by sunburn (Cancer Council Australia 2016)?
Skin cancer is caused by skin cells becoming damaged and in 95 to 99% of cases this is from sun-exposure (Cancer Council Australia 2016). Australia has one of the highest global rates of skin cancer (Cancer Council Australia 2016).
‘In 2013, 2,209 people died from skin cancer in Australia; 1,617 from melanoma and 592 deaths from non-melanoma skin cancers. The five-year relative survival rate for melanoma is 89% for Australian men and 94% for Australian women.’
(Cancer Council Australia 2016)
The Cancer Council Australia (2016) recommends that you ‘become familiar with the look of your skin, so you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer. Look for:
- Any crusty, non-healing sores
- Small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
- New spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour)
It is crucial to note that if skin cancers are not treated, they can be fatal (Cancer Council Victoria 2016).
See ‘Skin and Sun’, Ausmed’s downloadable eBook with instructions on how to check for skin cancer.
- B&T Magazine 2016, ‘L’oreal Launches My UV Patch in Australia’, B&T, 5 October, viewed 27 January 2017, http://www.bandt.com.au/technology/loreal-excited-launch-uv-patch-australia
- Cancer Council Australia 2017, Skin Cancer, Cancer Council Australia, viewed 27 January 2017, http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer.html
- Moore, T 2016, ‘Colour Change Skin Patches Teach Children to Add Sunscreen’, Brisbane Times, 8 October, viewed 27 January 2017, http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/colour-change-skin-patches-teach-children-to-add-sunscreen-20161007-grxm0k.html
- SunSmart 2017, Checking for Skin Cancer, Cancer Council Australia, viewed 27 January 2017, http://www.sunsmart.com.au/skin-cancer/checking-for-skin-cancer