Ways to make the sun our friend

Today almost everyone knows that solar radiation is accountable for 90% of skin cancer cases - a number which increases year by year.  However, not everyone is influenced at the same rate from the solar radiation, since specific skin types are more sensitive and suffer skin damage more easily  from the harmful sun’s rays. In order to ensure the sun is our friend we should protect ourselves from the sun all year through and especially during the summer, by using sun creams with additional sun protection clothes. The following should be kept in mind:


1. Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun's rays are strongest between 11 am and 4 pm, due to the fact the sun’s rays reach the earth’s surface vertically. 

2. Use sun protection clothes as the first means of protection. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, where possible.  Dense woven and dark colour fabrics, offer more UVR protection, than light colours.


3. Generously apply sun cream 15-30 minutes before exposure to achieve the best protection without rubbing/wiping. Reapply once more 15-30 minutes after the sun exposure begins and then reapply every 2 hours, even on cloudy days.  Further reapplication is only necessary after activities such as swimming, sweating, or rubbing/wiping.  For optimum sun protection wear sun protection clothes with high UV protection factor.


4. Always select a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sun cream with a sun protection factor (SPF)       of at least 30 to all exposed skin. "Broad-spectrum" provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.


5. Wear a hat that has coverage around the entire circumference of the head. Or a hat that has enough excess material to cover the neck and ears, also (legionnaire type), and be sure to wear sun glasses that carry the UV protection symbol and/or the initials ANSI.


6. Apply sun cream even when in a car, because the sun rays pass through windows. Since sun rays are diffused everywhere in the atmosphere, apply sun cream even when in shade.


7. Stop believing that when we are in water that we cannot get sunburned.  This perception is completely erroneous. Because we feel cool, the damage felt on our skin is not immediately realised, due to the fact that the ultraviolet rays penetrate into the water up to the depth of three meters.


8. The solarium is not only equally dangerous to the sun, but it “adds” radiation in the skin. (Read relative article about the solarium).


9. Self tan creams do not protect from the sun, because they do not activate the melanin that protects the skin from ultraviolet beams. Self tan creams simply color the keratin that is found on the skin’s surface. For that reason we absolutely need to take sun protection measures.


10. Contrary to other forms of cancer, skin cancer effects mainly young individuals and individuals of medium age. Children under three years should not be exposed to direct sunlight the “dangerous” hours.  Explain to the bigger children the dangers of sun overexposure, teach them to be conscious of the power of the sun and to spend some of their time playing in the shade, and reward them when they show responsible behaviour, like for example when they wear their sun protection clothes and sun glasses or when they get under the shade on their own.



11. In particular - babies up to 6 months of age should not be exposed to the sun because their melanin cells are not yet mature and consequently they cannot produce melanin even with the help of a sun cream. For this reason, babies - even if they remain in the shade - can be sun burned very quickly.  The use of sun protection clothes is mandatory.


12. Skin cancer is curable provided there is an early diagnosis - where no precious time has been lost. If we perceive any changes in our skin -  like a mole that bleeds or changes colour and acquires an irregular form we should immediately consult our dermatologist.