Don't go down in straight sets to sunburn this Australian Open

Monday 17 January, 2011

As the massive grand slam event gets into swing in Melbourne this week, tennis spectators are being urged to be SunSmart while enjoying the on court action.

SunSmart Manager Sue Heward says sun protection at the Australian Open is critical as ultraviolet (UV) levels, which can cause skin cancer, reach peak levels in Victoria during this time of year.

"UV radiation can reach extreme levels during January and it can take just 11 minutes to burn when UV Index levels are this high," she says.

"The slip, slop, slap, seek and slide message is also extremely important for overseas visitors who may not be aware of Australia's extreme UV levels and the damage it can do to the skin and eyes."

Australia remains one of the skin cancer capitals of the world with 1850 people dying a year. Tragically skin cancer is one of our most preventable
cancers. Ms Heward urged people to leave home well prepared to avoid getting sunburnt and skin damage from tanning. Sunburn and tanning are
both signs of your skin cells in trauma.

"Tennis spectators can be out in the sun for long periods of time, so it's vital they plan ahead," she says. "Sunscreen is just one part of keeping your skin safe; a wide brimmed hat, long sleeved clothing and sunglasses are all essential to avoid sunburn.

"Shade is also extremely important and fans should take particular care on the outside courts where shade is more limited."

Even if it's cloudy and overcast in the morning, the UV level is likely to reach high to extreme levels during the day. Check the SunSmart UV Alert each day on the SunSmart website or on the free SunSmart iPhone app to find out the times when sun protection is required.

"It is still possible to get skin and eye damage even if the weather does cool down during the tournament. At this time of year, UV Index levels are likely to be high even on mild or cloudy days, which is why many people are surprised if they get sunburnt. So keep your eye on the ball and slip, slop, slap, seek and slide!"

Some courtside tips:

SunSmart recommends that tennis fanatics check the UV Alert each day before heading out and whenever UV levels reach 3 and above, remember to
use a combination of the five sun protection measures including:

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible such as collared shirts and three-quarter-length trousers and
    tops.
  2. Slop on SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out and make sure to take a bottle or tube with you so you can reapply every two hours. Use a generous amount. The average-sized adult should apply at least a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm, leg,
    front of body and back of body and at least ½ teaspoon to the face (including the ears and neck).
  3. Slap on a hat - a wide brimmed hat will protect your face, head, neck and ears. Baseball caps do not provide enough coverage.
  4. Seek shade, especially when UV levels peak in the middle of the day.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards Cancer Council sunscreen will be available to purchase at the Open. Money raised from sales will help fund Cancer Council's research, prevention and patient support programs.

For further information about UV, skin cancer and vitamin D go to www.sunsmart.com.au or call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

Updated: 17 Jan, 2011