Australia has a new day to add to its calendars, friends.
Our first-ever National Skin Check Day falls on February 25, and the date has been set in order to encourage Aussies to get out and have their skin checked for any concerning spots or marks.
In this sunburnt country, skin cancer affects as many as two in three Australians at some stage in their lifetime. Melanoma is the most common cancer among 15 to 39-year-olds, and more broadly, one person is diagnosed with melanoma almost every half an hour in Australia.
The stats are stark. And they make a clear case for this new date. The inaugural National Skin Check Day (ANSCD) asks all Aussies to be proactive about booking in with their doctor for a skin check-up in the hope of encouraging early detection and prevention of melanoma.
The initiative comes from Jason Sprott, Founder of Mates Against Melanoma. Sprout began Mates Against Melanoma in 2018 after his own terminal metastasis melanoma diagnosis. The organisation works to "provide education and awareness of this disease to encourage early detection and prevention".
If you're curious about getting your skin checked, here is a quick guide to some of the more common questions and misunderstandings in this area.
Jason Sprott spoke to Lifehacker over email to inform the below.
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Where is the best place to get your skin checked?
"The best place to get your skin checked is with a trained GP or an accredited dermatologist," Sprott said. You can make a booking with your local doctor's office, or seek out a referral to visit a dermatologist. Additionally, there are a number of skin check clinics around Australia where you can pop in and see a GP (usually) who specialises in skin cancer diagnosis.
How often should you get your skin checked?
"Once every 12 months minimum, especially at the end of summer," said Sprott. However, if you're at a higher risk or have had extended sun exposure, it is worth upping that to every six months.
"Aussies can also do self-examinations or check for a mate and family member by looking for any changes to the skin. If changes occur, take a picture of it and seek medical advice immediately," Sprott added.
What are some common misconceptions around skin checks?
It is not painful to have a standard skin check. Your doctor will be looking over your skin with a diagnostic device, Sprott advised, but there will be no physical discomfort.
These checks are also pretty speedy! They usually take about 20 minutes to run through, though if you have lots of moles or freckles there is a chance it'll take a little longer.
Lastly, your initial checks do not need to set you back a considerable amount, financially. While this varies depending on who you have complete your skin check, most GP or skin check doctors will charge between $100 and $150; dermatologists tend to cost $250 to $350, and your medicare rebate on the visit is set at $37.60.
Got any further questions for us on skin checks in Australia? Pop them in the comments section below. If not, I'd take this as your annual reminder to book that skin check in; it's far too important to shrug off.