Sunscreen prevents ultraviolet light-induced damage
It is well known today, thanks to numerous informational campaigns, that intensive and long-term UV exposure damages the skin, leads to premature aging and significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. There remains, however, a need for information about how to avoid such skin damage and the right way to protect oneself.
In addition to regular cancer screenings, the best possible protection from the sun is of the utmost importance, since a high level of exposure to the sun and severe sunburns are considered a higher risk factor for skin cancer developing later. Appropriate measures can help to reduce this risk significantly.
How sensitive a person is to the sun and what prophylactic measures need to be taken depend primarily on the individual type of skin. People with fair skin, blue eyes and blond or red hair are considerably more sensitive to the sun than people with dark skin, brown eyes and black hair.
A dermatologist can ascertain the skin type of an individual complexion and recommend the appropriate ultraviolet light protection measures.
General Tips on Ultraviolet Light Protection
- Avoid the sun between 11:00am and 3:00pm and stay in the shade
- Wear the right protective clothing in the sun (e.g. hat or cap with sun guard and neck protection, tightly woven textile shirts and t-shirts, long trousers, and footwear that completely covers the foot)
- Sunbathe under a parasol or sunshade
- Wear sunscreen in the shade as well
- Use a waterproof sunscreen with high sun protection factor (30+)
- Pay attention, especially for children, that the right sun protection is used consistently and clothing is worn that protects from the sun
Sunscreens with a high sun protection factor (30+) should always be applied thickly and evenly before sunbathing. Contrary to popular belief, a high sun protection factor does not prevent sunburns from occurring, they simply increase the amount of time it is possible to remain in the sun without getting a sunburn.
If the natural protection time of the skin without a sunscreen is 20 minutes, this time is increased by a sun protection factor of 10. This means that one’s own sun protection time is multiplied by the sun protection factor, so that in this example, a protection time of 200 minutes (20 x 10) from the sun would result. Once the 200 minutes have been reached, the sun protection time can NOT be increased, even by adding more sunscreen.
Contrary to popular belief, solariums are not a healthy or appropriate alternative to natural sunbathing. Even though the amount of damaging ultraviolet B rays is lower, the rays come in a higher dosage in order to shorten the tanning time. That’s why regular visits to a solarium increase the risk of skin cancer just as much as the effect of natural sunbathing.
The fundamentally higher percentage of ultraviolet A-rays at a solarium penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and facilitate the aging process. Elasticity is reduced and the skin slackens, increasingly.
A solarium is NOT the right way to ‘prepare’ your skin for a vacation in the sun - it neither reduces the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light nor does it help to protect the skin by building up sunspots. The use of high sun protection factors at the beginning of the vacation is definitely preferable to a well-meant ‘pre-tanning’ attempt.
So-called self-tanning lotions offer a great alternative to sunbathing and solariums. Most tanning lotions require a bit of skill when being applied as they can look spotty and/or give the skin an orange tone when applied incorrectly. The good news is that they are completely harmless.
Solarium showers and airbrush tans are a current trend, as they enable a seamless tan WITHOUT exposing the skin to dangerous UV rays.
But be careful: self-tanning lotions DON’T increase the time your skin can protect itself in the sun and are therefore NOT a protection against the effects of the sun.