What you can do for yourself

Protect your skin

Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunscreen, Slap on a hat!


Avoid Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D forms in the skin when it is exposed to UV from sunlight. It can also be obtained from some foods. We need vitamin D to maintain good health and to keep bones and muscles strong and healthy.

Some people may not be able to access the sun exposure required to help them maintain their vitamin D levels. These groups may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. They include:

· naturally dark skinned people – who need more UV exposure to produce adequate levels of vitamin D as the pigment in their skin reduces UV penetration

· people who cover their skin for health, religious or cultural reasons

· the elderly and people who are housebound or in institutional care

· babies and infants of vitamin D deficient mothers, especially breastfed babies

· patients with osteoporosis.

People in these groups should consult their doctor for advice on whether they need to take a vitamin D supplement.

For most people, adequate vitamin D levels are reached through regular daily activity and incidental exposure to the sun. During summer, the majority of people can maintain adequate vitamin D levels from a few minutes of exposure to sunlight on their face, arms and hands or the equivalent area of skin on either side of the peak UV periods (the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense) on most days of the week.

In winter in the southern parts of Australia, where UV radiation levels are less intense, people may need about two to three hours of sunlight to the face, arms and hands, or equivalent area of skin, spread over a week to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. In winter in northern parts of Australia, people will continue to maintain adequate vitamin D levels going about their day-to-day activities, so it is not necessary to deliberately seek UV radiation exposure.

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