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Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Sun protection - The basics
Good sun protection habits include:
1. Avoidance of direct sun exposure between 11 AM and 3 PM
2. Sitting in the shade,
3. Wearing protective clothing (tighter weaves and darker colours give greater protection),
4. Wearing broad-brimmed hats and eye protection.
Nevertheless, regular sunscreen use has been shown to reduce the incidence of sun damage, non-melanoma type and melanoma skin cancers in at-risk individuals.
Why is all this photoprotection necessary?
The reason for being careful in the sun is ultraviolet light. This is light which exists just beyond the blue stripe of the rainbow. Ultraviolet light causes DNA mutations in our skin cells, This leads to burning and tanning in the short term and photoaging, sun damage and skin cancer in the longer term. Ultraviolet is a particular problem in the middle of the day when “Ultraviolet B”, (the wavelengths of light most responsible for burning our skin and causing skin cancer), penetrate the atmosphere. “Ultraviolet A” wavelengths, (which contribute to skin cancer and skin ageing), pass through the atmosphere all day. Ultraviolet C is highly carcinogenic but thankfully is filtered out by the ozone layer.
Does my Skin tone affect how I should behave in the sun?
Remember ‘Photoaging’ affects all people, regardless of their skin type. If you want to continue to look your best into middle and old age you have a great reason to wear sunscreen. It might save you some money on Botox!
What about Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is made in our skin in the presence of sunlight. Some people worry that if you wear sunscreen your vitamin d production might be impaired. In practice this is not an issue. In hot weather, you should get enough vitamin d even if you are wearing sunscreen from exposing your arms and face for 10- 20 minutes every day. In winter if you work indoors you may well be at risk of getting a low vitamin d. If you do have low vitamin d it is easy to replace with supplements which are easily available from pharmacies and heath food shops as tablets or sprays.
My top 6 Sunscreens
Always go for a Sunscreen which has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50 and a 5-star UVA protection rating (some brands indicate UVA protection with a UVA symbol with a circle around it). The SPF indicates the sunscreen’s protective value against UVB and the star rating indicates its value against UVA. Because most of us don’t manage to apply the sunscreen as instructed we won’t actually get the advertised SPF, in fact, we are more likely to get between 1 quarter and third of the SPF advertised. For this reason, I always advise patients to purchase higher factor sunscreens regardless of skin tone.
How much should I put on?
One teaspoonful for the face should be enough and if you want to cover the body too, around a full shot glass of sunscreen should do that. When out in sunny weather you should repeat the application around every 2 hours. Its harder to do than it sounds…
To make an appointment with Dr John Ferguson please call the team on 0808 250 6828