*EDITORIAL* Stay Out of the Sun

Of all risks associated with dx adventure, particularly with dx projects in the field, skin damage caused by lengthy exposure to the sun (i.e. sunburn) is perhaps the most poignant.

Many DX fanatics, I’m sure, have journeyed either into the field OR to some island getaway for some radio fun only to return home ‘as red as a lobster’.  While the immediate effects of such an experience will disappear after a few days, soothed by some aloe vera cream and endless cold showers, the long term effects on physical health can indeed be quite serious.

In fact, DXing in the field for long hours without suitable protection from the sun’s destructive ultra violet rays places you at greater risk of developing melanoma skin cancer, a vicious disease which represents 10% of all cancers.

Melanoma skin cancer is defined as:

“a tumor of melanin-forming cells, especially a malignant tumor associated with skin cancer, appearing anywhere on the body…”

Mayo Clinic

Whom is Susceptible to Melanoma?

While everyone is susceptible to melanoma skin cancer, those living in some of the world’s harshest equatorial climates are proven to be at higher risk.  Pacific Island countries like Australia and New Zealand, in particular, represent a potential sun cancer hazard to any dx adventure enthusiast, while ventures to smaller Oceanic islands for IOTA field work perhaps even more so.  This could be due, in some small part, to reduced access to medical professionals, as well as skin care agents such as sun cream and other sun safety measures.

Looking at data for other regions around the globe, the countries with the greatest per-capita skin cancer burdens — attributable to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation — include the United States, Canada and Cuba, and, more surprisingly, Northern Europe (Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands).

Alternatively, the bottom of the list consists mainly of South Asian countries, including India, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

How Can DX Adventurists Prevent Melanoma?

Whenever you’re out in the field enjoying your radio hobby you should avoid being sunburned by minimizing sun exposure when the SunSmart UV Alert exceeds 3 and especially between the hours of 10am and 3pm when UV levels reach their peak.

You should also avoid the sun when your shadow is shorter than your height.

During these times, you should…

  1. Slap on sunscreen
  2. Seek shade
  3. Wear a broad-brimmed hat that covers the head, neck and ears
  4. Wear close-fitting sunglasses
  5. Wear sun protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts and long trousers) — Keep the shirt on!

Of course, an indoor DX station or one set up beneath the shade of a tarpaulin or a large beach umbrella is another precaution to guard against sun damage to the skin and will lessen the necessity of having to cover up from head to toe.


Doctors use a number of tools and techniques to examine skin thoroughly, beyond what the naked eye can see. And melanomas that are detected and treated early are reportedly cured in 90% of cases. So, in addition to self-checking regularly you should have a professional skin check once a year. It’s also important to get a professional skin check by a doctor if anything suspicious appears, in addition to having your annual skin check.

Essentially, the best thing to remember though when it comes to protecting yourself against Melanoma is that “prevention is the best cure”.

Stay safe in the sun Dx Adventurers and avoid getting sunburnt!

73 de Darren