Most cases of melanoma in New Zealand are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which is a form of radiation
UV light usually comes from the sun but it is also created in sunbeds. UV light does not feel hot and you do not have to be burnt to be affected by it.
Normally, the ozone layer serves to naturally reduce the amount of UV radiation that we are exposed to on Earth, but damage to the ozone layer means that people in New Zealand are particularly at risk of developing melanoma through UV exposure.
Around 10% of cases of melanoma are not believed to have been caused by UV exposure, though, and it is often difficult to explain why those melanomas have developed. It is for that reason that it is vital that you are skin-aware and monitor any changes to your skin and the skin of your loved ones.
Can you prevent a melanoma spreading?
You can prevent melanoma from spreading in most cases by identifying changes to your skin early and seeking medical help promptly. But by staying SunSmart, many cases of melanoma can be prevented from developing in the first place.
Being ‘SunSmart’ involves avoiding sunburn and keeping your skin protected against UV light. This is important for adults, but is perhaps even more important for children because being sunburnt as a child can greatly increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma in later life.
Protect your skin from UV light
Wearing a hat with a broad rim that casts shade all around your head and neck area
Wearing sunglasses with UV filters in the lenses
Covering your skin as much as possible with clothing (children can wear special swimwear with UV filters in the material)
Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on any skin not covered by clothing. Apply it thickly before exposure to the sun and re-apply every 2 hours or more frequently if you are in the water.
These measures should always be put in place during the hottest parts of the day and year (September to April, 10am to 4pm). Sunlight is an important part of how our bodies function and you need some exposure to it to enable your body to produce Vitamin D, but balance that need carefully against the risk of melanoma at all times.
Request a consultation
More detailed information can be obtained during a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons. Please contact the Institute for a consultation.