The sun immediately puts us in a good mood, it is important for our well-being and for vitamin D synthesis. Enjoying the sun in moderation is beneficial for our physical and mental health. It can even help in the treatment and prevention of some diseases such as psoriasis, neurodermatitis, osteoporosis and depression. Nonetheless, exposure to the sun also poses dangers. What they are and what you can do to enjoy the sun safely, you will learn in this article.
UV rays and skin diseases
About 70 percent of skin diseases occurring in older age are UV-related. The UV rays that strike the earth's surface are UV-A and UV-B rays.
UV-B rays penetrate the epidermis, disrupt the skin barrier and can lead to sunburn and its late effects such as skin cancer and pigmentary disorders.
UV-A rays penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, aging it and increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Sunburns are first or second degree burns and any redness increases your risk of skin cancer. So UV exposure can also cause skin irritation and visible skin damage such as pigmentary shifts, age spots, wrinkles and eventually skin cancer.
What exactly is sunburn (dermatitis solaris)?
Sunburn is an acute inflammatory reaction of the skin after exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation damages the epidermis, causing the release of inflammation mediators.
At first, sunburn manifests itself as itching and pain. This is followed later by redness and swelling. In very severe sunburn, blistering and even general symptoms such as fever and nausea may occur. Symptoms usually appear 6 to 8 hours, maximum 12 to 24 hours after exposure and usually subside within a week.
In the case of a mild sunburn, the main recommended treatment is cooling of the exposed areas. In case of severe sunburn, drug treatment may be necessary. Any sunburn or radiation damage increases the risk of uncontrolled cell division. Simply put, the formation of malignant tumors.
Not only the bright red sunburn damages the skin. Any tanning is a defensive reaction of the skin to the sun's radiation and indicates that the skin has been injured. This exposure to radiation adds up over a lifetime, and so skin cancer can develop even from slow, recurring minor sun damage. The skin does not forget the radiation and therefore applies: Sun protection must be!
What can you do? Sunscreen protects against damage!nd therefore applies: Sun protection must be!
Sunscreen contains UV light filtering substances. Thus, it is scientifically proven that consistent application of sunscreen can protect against sunburn, skin cancer and skin aging.
The higher the sun protection factor, the longer the protection
The sun protection factor indicates how much longer you can expose yourself to the sun without getting sunburned. Depending on your skin type and tan level, the self-protection time can vary from a few minutes to about 30 minutes. If you blush after about 10 minutes without sunscreen and use a cream with SPF 30, the sun protection is extended to a maximum of 300 minutes.
Reapplication does not prolong the protection
Reapplying sunscreen, on the other hand, does not prolong the protection - it only maintains it. In this example, the skin would still need a break from the sun after 300 minutes, but a little earlier as a precaution.
Sunscreen in skin care routine
Sunscreen is the last step in the morning skincare routine and should follow the application of the individual day cream. In order to achieve the promised sun protection factor, approximately 2 milligrams of cream must be applied per square centimeter of skin. That is approximately 6 teaspoons for the body of an average adult and 1 teaspoon for the face. It takes about 30 minutes for the protection to take effect. Therefore, it is important that you apply the sunscreen early enough.
All around sun protection
Under trees or sunshades, we are still exposed to up to 50 percent of UV rays due to the reflection of ambient radiation. Likewise, clouds by no means protect us from UV radiation. And even in the car we are not completely safe. Although window glass can filter UVB radiation, UVA radiation reaches our skin unhindered, especially through side and rear windows. Therefore, in addition to applying and reapplying sunscreen, you should wear protective clothing, headgear and sunglasses. You should also avoid the blazing midday sun and always take breaks from the sun.
Conclusion: The sun is great. To enjoy it to the fullest without consequences, comprehensive sun protection is very important. This is the only way to protect our skin from sunburn, skin aging and skin diseases such as skin cancer.
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Stege, H. & Mang, R. (2013). Effektiver Sonnenschutz für jeden Hauttyp. Asthetische Dermatologie und Kosmetologie, 10(5), 7-15.
Ultraviolette Strahlung (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum)
Hautkrebs (Deutsche Krebshilfe)