Whatever your skin type, specific factors might trigger or lead to oversensitivity: Your skin reacts strongly when you’d rather it didn’t…
The sun, friend or foe ?
We are particularly interested in specific two components of sun rays:
- UVA: Penetrates deeply into the skin, can damage elastic fibers and is responsible for premature skin aging. It is also responsible for certain types of skin cancers.
- UVB: Stimulates the production of melanin resulting in a tan within 48 hours. It can cause sunburn in the short term and premature skin aging in the long term. It can also increase the risk of certain skin cancers.
If susceptible, your skin can react to the sun and these reactions are more or less quickly visible. These types of sun sensitivity reactions are based, in particular, on your phototype. Your phototype will dictate your level of sun resistance. It is therefore key to know your phototype.
The melanocytes from the lower layer of the epidermis produce melanin (a brown pigment) which absorbs sun rays and helps protect the skin from some of the rays of the sun. Sunburn is a burn induced by UVB. It is a sign of UVB overexposure.
Second degree burns consists of blistering with blisters filled with water/serum. Feeling faint, headache, fever, and/or dehydration from heatstroke can be part of the symptoms.
- Overexposure or excessive exposure and lack of protection may cause other problems.
- Photodermatoses: These disorders are also called “sun allergies”. Benign summer light eruption (BSLE) is the most common characterised by eruptions and itching on the neckline and the forearms. Polymorphic light eruption (PMLE) and solar urticaria are more rare, although PMLE tends to be found in places where sun exposure is uncommon, such as Northern Europe.
- Sun spots: Brown spots that can appear on the most exposed areas of the skin, usually face and hands.
- Premature skin aging: Visible on the face, neck, back of the neck, back of the hands, forearms.
Check your moles and spots regularly
Examining your skin regularly is crucial for early detection of melanomas. It is easy to do, alone in front of a mirror or with the help of a family member. Be aware that some types of skin cancer do not provide tell-tale signs and are atypical in their manifestation. So, it’s good to get all moles checked periodically by your doctor.
IS UVB MORE DANGEROUS THAN UVA?
UVB is as dangerous as UVA. Both are involved in skin aging and some skin cancers. UVB is responsible for sunburn and our body doesn’t have a natural warning system to prevent against sun burning.
DOES A SUNSCREEN PREVENT TANNING?
When used correctly, sunscreens provide protection to help prevent sunburn, tanning, and accompanying skin ageing. But this protection is determined by how long one is in direct sunlight, the time of day, how well sunscreen is applied to the skin, whether other forms of protection are used (hat/cap, t-shirt, sunglasses, etc.). Avoid creating a situation where your skin is tanning. Tanning indicates skin damage and thus skin ageing, and increases the risks of some skin cancers.
DOES A CLOUD COVER PREVENT TANNING? CAN YOU GET A TAN WHILE UNDER AN UMBRELLA?
Clouds only stop a small portion of sun rays. Cloud cover can let up to 95% of UV rays through. So, be careful! Under an umbrella, you get still get half of the sun rays (if possible obtain an umbrella designed for use in the sun with an SPF rating). Light and UV rays can reach the skin indirectly as it reflects over various surfaces. This reflection is 20% over the ocean and 15% to 25% over sand. Be very careful!
ONCE TANNED, CAN YOU BE IN THE SUN WITHOUT PROTECTION?
Don’t ever forget that a suntan does not protect against sunburn. In addition, a tan doesn’t protect against UVA rays which, over time, are responsible for some skin cancers.
DOES SUN EXPOSURE INCREASE THE RISK OF HERPES OR COLD SORES?
The herpes virus remains dormant (“asleep”) in the nerve tissues. Under stress, and other conditions, including exposure to the sun, it can “awaken” and a flare-up occurs: a cold sore (also known as “fever blister”). In order to avoid flare ups, protect your lips with a high SPF lip product.
TIPS FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE SUN EXPOSURE?
1. The best protection is clothing. For everyone especially for children: t-shirt, cap, sunglasses (that meet Australian Sunglasses Standards)
2. Babies and young children should never be very be exposed to direct sunlight.
4. Sunburns are always dangerous, especially for children.
5. Avoid sun exposure between 10AM and 2PM. Check UV forecasts in your local weather report.
6. Sun exposure must be gradual.
7. Sand, snow and water can reflect more than half the sun rays on your skin. Clouds do not offer a good enough protection.
8. You must reapply your UVB and UVA protection sunscreen every two hours, and after bathing.
9. Choose a sunscreen based on your skin type.
10. A sunscreen is not meant to let you stay in the sun longer.
11. At altitude or under the tropics, it is necessary to use a higher SPF sunscreen than usual.
12. Drink water regularly, watch over youngsters and don’t forget the elderly.
13. Choose your sunscreen wisely and apply it carefully (following the directions for use)