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Protecting Skin from Ultraviolet Damage

SPF UV

With summer just around the corner, you might be thinking of booking up your summer holiday, whether you’re jetting off abroad or spending time outdoors in the UK; it’s important to protect our skin from Ultraviolet (UV) damage.

So what are UV rays?

UV is light radiation produced by the sun, strong enough to penetrate the earth. Both UVA and UVB rays cause damage to our skin and DNA. Resulting in premature skin aging, damage to our eyes such as cataracts, and skin cancers.

UVA

UVA is believed to account for up to 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth, and can penetrate clouds and glass. UVA rays are mostly responsible for tanning. A tan occurs as our body produces melanin to protect us. Darkening of the skin is damaged skin. Resulting in damage to the deeper layers of skin known as the dermis and playing a large part in skin aging, such as loss of elasticity and wrinkling (photoaging), dark spots (hyperpigmentation) and more worryingly, basal and squamous cell cancers (non-melanoma).

UVB

UVB rays are the main cause of skin burning and redness, resulting in damage to the upper layers of skin, the epidermis. And are the primary cause of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. UVB rays are shorter and do not penetrate glass sufficiently to cause damage.

How can we protect ourselves?

  • Wear sunscreen. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen, with a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection and high sun protection factor (SPF) to exposed areas of skin, 30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming.
  • Avoid the sun during peak hours. The sun is at its hottest between 10 am and 4 pm. Seek shade when possible, during these hours.
  • Protect eyes. Wear sunglasses with a sufficient level of UV protection.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and shoulders. Cover up areas that catch easily such as the shoulders and chest with a cool cotton t-shirt.
  • Protect children. Keep newborns and infants out of direct sunlight. Use a sun protection factor of 50+ on children over six months of age. And UV protective clothing.

In the event of sun damage

Despite our best intentions, we all get caught out from time to time. If redness, sunburn or hyperpigmentation have occurred, here’s how you can care for your post-sun skin.

*In the event of severe sunburn (redness and swelling, blistering, pain or tingling) seek medical advice.

Above all, holidays should be fun. Remembering to be safe in the sun, can mean the difference between a great holiday or a regretful one!


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