Sun screen, hat, shade.
We probably think we are being skin smart when we covered these three in the heat of summer. Well, that’s just part of story.
Being skin smart is about understanding your environment and protecting yourself accordingly; and looking after your skin on a regular basis by visiting a skin specialist to check for irregularity.
We caught up with the founders of Skin Smart Australia – Jane Homberger and Hillary McGregor-Potter, to talk about the biggest mistakes that people are making when it comes to skin protection, and the steps we can make to eliminate or reduce the risk of skin cancer.
In your experience, what is the biggest mistake(s) people are making when it comes to skin protection?
There are two factors that we encounter on a regular basis which, in our opinion, contribute to the amount of later stage Melanomas and Skin Cancers which are diagnosed in Australia.
One of these factors is misunderstanding the environment; in particular the effect of the seasons.
It is recommended that sun protection is utilised whenever the UV index is rated at 3 or above.
Here in Australia, only the southern states (TAS, VIC and parts of SA) have a reprieve from a UV rating of 3 or greater during the winter months. For all other states, it is recommended that sun protection methods (SLIP, SLOP, SLAP AND SLIDE) are utilised all year round.
The second factor is a generalised misunderstanding of the disease itself.
Many of the participants whom we see at their initial skin cancer assessment are unaware that there are three types of skin cancers that are extremely common here in Australia, and that Melanoma is in fact the least common of these three subgroups.
It also comes as a great surprise to many people to hear that Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, and that genetic predisposition is a factor in the development of this form of skin cancer.
Another fact that many people are unaware of is that individuals with darker skin types are also at risk of developing skin cancer. Many people are shocked to hear that Bob Marley succumbed to melanoma after it developed underneath his toenail!
The lack of awareness of these simple facts can trick many Australians into complacency; which is a dangerous mindset to have when the chance of surviving melanoma typically relies on its early detection.
What steps can we take to eliminate the mistakes?
Be aware of your personal risk of developing Skin Cancer, understand when you need to be implementing sun protection measures, learn how to effectively self-monitor, and understand what you are looking for!
Skin Smart Australia places great emphasis on educating all individuals who take part in their services as a standard part of each consultation. It’s the old adage; give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; or teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime… we believe in giving each participant the skill to potentially make a true stand in the protection of their own health.
Could you tell us a little bit about the birth of Skin Smart Australia?
Skin Smart Australia is the brain child of Jane Homberger, who conceived the idea after realising how dramatically under resourced the field of skin cancer detection is. The number of skin cancer trained health professionals VS the climbing Australian population (in particular aging) is an extremely one sided equation.
With tricky logistics around proximity to screening services that many Australians experience, it made sense to take the screening services to the individual – directly into the workplace!
Jane discussed the potential for such a business with Hillary McGregor-Potter; and the two of them joined forces to create the extraordinary business that it has developed into today.
With both Jane and Hillary coming from a background in nursing, the proactive approach to health that Skin Smart Australia provides through skin cancer assessment and education, resounds deeply with them both.
This pre-emptive methodology of encouraging greater awareness, coupled with access to regular skin cancer assessments for the Australian worker, is the ideal service to complement existing Work Place Health and Wellness Programmes across all industries.
What services does Skin Smart Australia offer?
Skin Smart Australia offer several skin cancer assessment services that can be accessed onsite; in any location Australia wide.
These services are facilitated by a Dermatoscopist; which is a skin cancer qualified nurse (or para-medical professional).
This service is an excellent option for employers who are able to offer their employees the crème-de-la-crème of the skin cancer assessment services. The consultation involves the digital imaging of suspicious lesions; a recall service which is implemented for any individual who requires follow up, a thorough full body skin cancer assessment, identifying and discussing the participants individual skin cancer risk factor, as well as comprehensive education throughout the consultation about the different forms of skin cancer and suggested strategies to effectively self-monitor for them. Any participant who requires follow up will be provided with a recommendation letter to take to a Medical Practitioner of their choice, as well as digital images of all skin lesions via email.
This service is the most popular of the onsite services. It involves a thorough full body skin cancer assessment, identifying and discussing the participant’s individual skin cancer risk factor, as well as comprehensive education throughout the consultation about the different forms of skin cancer and suggested strategies to effectively self-monitor for them. Any participant who requires follow up will be provided with a hard copy of a recommendation letter to take to a Medical Practitioner of their choice.
This service is perfect for the employer who is looking for an introductory service for their employees, as well as providing them with some very relevant and comprehensive education about skin cancer.
For this service, exposed areas only will be assessed on each participant; as well as any specific lesion that the participant expresses concern about. This service also includes the identification and discussion of the participant’s individual skin cancer risk factor, as well as comprehensive education throughout the consultation about the different forms of skin cancer and suggested strategies to effectively self-monitor for them. Any participant who requires follow up will be provided with a hard copy of a recommendation letter to take to a Medical Practitioner of their choice.
This one hour seminar is an interactive presentation which focusses on creating a better understanding of the 3 most common forms of skin cancer here in Australia, how to effectively self-monitor and when to seek medical advice; recognising individual risk factors and understanding how to best protect the skin.
The information is delivered by utilising a series of case studies and quizzes to maximise audience involvement.
This comprehensive service can be made available to our corporate clientele, however is most commonly delivered from our Victorian based clinical setting. This service is available to the general public, and can be accessed by either self or GP referral.
Our expertly trained Dermatoscopists work closely with local GPs, performing the initial Skin Cancer Assessments and digital imaging of skin lesions, and then liaising with the patients’ doctor of choice to ensure that the best interest of that individual is met, in a manner in which the patient feels most comfortable.
For more information on the above services, please refer to our website: www.skinsmartaustralia.com.au
Or contact Sofie Homberger on 0418 533 531
Skin Smart Australia will be presenting a seminar session at the upcoming Safety in Action event on 9-10 October at Sydney Showground. Entry to their seminar is FREE. For more information and how to register for your free ticket, please visit https://www.safetyinaction.net.au/seminar-schedule/