This type of sunscreen could be deadly

 

Relying on aerosol sunscreens could be deadly this summer, with a host of dodgy products deemed ineffective by alarming new research, skin cancer experts have warned.

Cancer Council has urged Australians against using only aerosol sunscreens to protect themselves after an investigation conducted by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) into nine commercially popular products revealed it was difficult to achieve the actual level of UV protection stated on the can.

Spray times required to achieve the UV protection advertised on the tested aerosols ranged from 4-14 seconds per limb or 29-98 seconds for a full body application.

QUT's research was conducted in controlled and ideal lab conditions, meaning the required spray times would be even longer in everyday situations, such as being at the beach.

Cancer Council has warned against Australians using aerosol sunscreens due to their ineffectiveness and false advertising. Picture: News Corp Australia
Cancer Council has warned against Australians using aerosol sunscreens due to their ineffectiveness and false advertising. Picture: News Corp Australia

Particularly concerning is that some of the tested aerosol products contained less than 50 per cent sunscreen, with the rest of the can propellant.

That makes it impossible for consumers to know how much sunscreen they are actually applying.

"Avoid aerosols because you don't know what you're getting and you're being lured into a false sense of security that you've protected yourself," Heather Walker, head of the SunSmart program, told NCA NewsWire.

"We recommend using cream or lotion sunscreens instead. It's much easier to see what you're applying to your skin.

"You should also be combining sunscreen with hats and protective clothing."

Most packaging advises consumers to "use liberally" or "apply generously", and Ms Walker said that was irresponsible and open to interpretation.

"Aerosols represent only about 7 per cent of the sunscreen market, so it's not huge, but it's not insignificant either," Ms Walker said. "It's easy and convenient to apply, but overall we recommended avoiding it and instead using plenty of cream and lotion-based sunscreens."

Also of concern is the number of Australians getting skin cancer check-ups this year, which Ms Walker puts down to COVID-19 restricting, or deterring, people from going to the doctors at all.

"With COVID, we have seen a 30 per cent drop in skin cancer notifications. Similar numbers are true across all cancers, but melanoma is especially concerning," Ms Walker said.

"That means, further down the line, those skin cancers haven't been picked up as quickly and that is a real concern.

"Our advice is absolutely don't delay, it's important to get your skin checked."

Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, with about 2000 deaths each year due to various forms.

Originally published as This type of sunscreen could be deadly


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