Experts notebook



The sun is the source of life and plays a vital role in development. However, it can be harmful to the body, especially to the skin. It is crucial to use sun protection.

Whatever your skin type, specific factors might trigger or lead to oversensitivity: Your skin reacts strongly when you’d rather it didn’t…

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The sun, friend or foe ?

The sun is the closest star to us. It is a source of pleasure, but some sun rays can have harmful effects on your skin.

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.

Skin reactions:

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.
First degree burns look like a red area outlining the exposed zones and is painful and burning.
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.
Skin cancer (certain types) risk: Protect yourself from this real risk.

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.


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