• September 24, 2013
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

So now that it is officially spring, let’s talk about some spring cleaning items! Now for the majority of people who grew up in Australia, sunscreen is mandatory year-round, not just in the summer. If you are not already wearing sunscreen, there is no day like today to start! In addition to preventing premature wrinkles and sun spots, sunscreen will also help to prevent skin cancer. I know that unless you have just returned from Mars (which is not currently an option) you all already know this information, it has been drilled into us since we were kids. Being from the Northern hemisphere I particularly like seeing the school kids out with their hats on at recess, but I digress.

Are you aware that in addition to preventing skin cancer sunscreen can also help to prevent mouth cancer? I’m not talking about some massive tumor on the back of your oropharynx–but I promise we will talk about that next time! I am specifically referring to any changes around your mouth, either on the skin close to your mouth or on your lips. According to the Cancer Council, every year in Australia about 900 people are diagnosed with lip cancer.1 That’s a lot! The Council also points out that even if you wear makeup, it will not protect you from the sun and that everyone should be wearing at least SPF 30 in addition to protective clothing on days when the UV index is 3 or above. The skin that makes up your lips does not contain the same amount of melanocytes as the rest of the skin on your face and neck which means it is very sun-sensitive. Your lips are also exposed to the sun every day and cancer in this region has a high risk of spreading.2 I don’t mean to scare you, but please do wear lip balm with an SPF!

The Dentist at 70 Pitt Street would also like to encourage everyone to remember the 5 S’s for sun safety:

1)      Slip on clothing that covers your arms and legs

2)      Slop on 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen

3)      Slap on a hat with a big brim to provide cover and shade

4)      Seek shade

5)      Slide on wrap-around sunglasses to protect your eyes

Of course, if you have any questions about sun safety or spots on your face or mouth please don’t hesitate to ask us or see your General Practice Doctor. For further reading, check out the below links:

1)       http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/head-and-neck-cancer/

2)       http://www.oralcancerfacts.com.au/causes-of-oral-cancer.html

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.


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