It is already public knowledge that excessive exposure to the sun and its UV rays predisposes us to skin cancer (also known as Melanoma).

However, this does not mean that we should avoid sunlight altogether, since it also has many beneficial effects for our health: it helps to fight depression and it allows our body to synthesise vitamin D.

It is important to know and be aware that we must protect ourselves from the sun every day, and not only reserve the use of preventive measures for beach or mountain days. In effect, “even if you do not see it, the sun is always there” and the sun exposure accumulates day by day, year after year. It is that damage accumulated throughout our life that hurts us.

The simplest way to protect yourself from UV rays is to stay in the shade. But if you are going to spend time outdoors: follow these tips to enjoy the sun & being smart about it.


Protect your skin with umbrella and clothes and … Use sunglasses!

When you are outdoors, wear clothes that cover your skin. Clothing will provide different degrees of protection depending on the skin surface it covers (the more, the better!), Its color (dark colors protect more than light colors) and the type of fabric (thicker fabric offers better protection than fabrics with a looser weave). Also, dry clothes generally protect better than wet clothes.

Keep in mind that covering does not block all ultraviolet rays. If you can see the light through the fabric, ultraviolet rays can also penetrate it.

Many brands currently offer light and comfortable clothing, while protecting against UV exposure even when wet (the most typical are t-shirts to wear on the beach). These fabrics tend to be of a narrower fabric, and some have a special coating that helps absorb UV rays. This sunscreen clothing must have a label that indicates the value of the UV protection factor (UPF): the higher the UPF, the greater the protection against ultraviolet rays.

We will have to follow this same reasoning when choosing a hat: the ideal is to have a wing around it at least 5-8 cm to protect the ears and neck (areas where melanomas are often found), the face and the scalp. A dark non-reflective underside on the brim of the hat can also help reduce the amount of UV rays that reach the face and eyes and come from shiny surfaces, such as water. Some models even create a shadow (cloth of approximately 15 centimeters that hangs on the sides and behind the neck) at the level of the neck.

Lenses that block UV rays are important to protect the delicate part around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves since it has been shown that spending long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increases your chances of developing certain ophthalmological diseases.

Good sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Look for an ANSI tag to make sure of it. The labels that indicate “UV absorption up to 400 nm” (absorption of ultraviolet rays up to 400 nm), or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” means that the lenses block at least 99% of the UV rays. Those whose label indicates that they are of “cosmetic” use block around 70% of UV rays. If the label does not say so, do not assume that the lenses provide any UV protection.

You should know that the darker crystals are not necessarily better because the protection against UV rays comes from an invisible chemical that the lenses have or that is applied to them, and not from the color or darkness of them.

It is particularly important that children should also wear sunglasses with sunscreen and not toy glasses.


Choose the right time to get in the sun

That is: avoid exposure to UV rays when they are more intense, ie between 11:00 and 16:00. A good trick to know the intensity of the sun’s rays is the shade test: if the shadow is smaller than you, the sun’s rays are the most intense, and it is important that it is protected.

Take special care when you are on the beach or in areas where there is snow, since sand, water and snow reflect sunlight, and thus the amount of UV radiation you receive is greater. And remember that UV rays cross the surface of the water, the glass (of the car, of the houses, …) so that you can burn yourself even when you are in the water and feeling cool or inside a house when you are near a window .

Do not trust the windows of cars, offices and polarized glasses: they only block a part of the UV rays (UVA or UVB) and let the other part pass, which could therefore harm you.



Use sunscreen properly

It is important to know that sunscreen is only a filter that does not block all UV rays and should not be used as the first line of protection! In no way should be used to prolong your time of exposure to the sun thinking that the cream allows it! Consider sunscreen as part of your skin cancer protection plan, especially if you do not have shade and protective clothing as your first options.

For a correct selection of sunscreen, be sure to read the label. It is recommended to use products with broad spectrum protection (ie against UVA and UVB rays) and with a sun protection factor (SPF) with a value of 30 or higher.

It is also very important to apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen, without which it will not be properly protected. Think of it like this: put on cream, unless it works!

Sun creams can have sun protection factors (SPF) of up to 100 or more. The higher the number, the more protection it offers. However, there is no sunscreen that offers total protection.

Check the expiration date of the sunscreen to make sure it is still valid. Keep in mind that sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods (trunk of the car during the summer …) could be less effective.


Make sure you apply sunscreen correctly

It is always recommended to apply a generous amount. When applying it, pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other area of ​​the body that is not covered by clothing. If you are going to use insect repellent or makeup, apply sunscreen first.

This application must be repeated at least every two hours to maintain protection. These creams can lose effectiveness when you sweat or rub yourself down with a towel. Therefore, they must reapply more frequently.

If you decide to use a sunscreen with a very high SPF, keep in mind that this does not mean you can stay in the sun longer, use less sunscreen or apply it less often: it only means that you will be better protected (which is great!)



Protect children from the sun

Children need special attention, because they usually spend more time in the open air, they can burn more easily, and they are not aware of the damage caused by sun exposure.

It should be avoided that babies under 12 months receive direct sunlight and should be protected from the sun with hats and protective clothing and glasses! Remember that exposure is cumulative throughout life: the sooner we start to protect ourselves, the more our skin will thank us!


In summary: we must …

1) Cover us with umbrellas, hat, sunglasses and appropriate clothing.

2) Avoid the sun between 11:00 and 16:00.

3) Use creams with at least SPF 30, apply it in generous amounts and repeat the application at least every 2 hours!

6) Extreme protection with children (hat, goggles, clothes, creams of FPS 50 or more).

7) Use protection in any outdoor activity.

8) Do not trust the cloudy days: the solar radiations can go through the clouds.






By Dr. Berenice Ibarra ○ Family Doctor


Categories: Uncategorised
Post by: Atlantic Clinic on 28 May 2019