With summer, the skin faces factors such as heat, sun, chlorine from swimming pools, sea salt, dehydration, etc. It is the moment to protect it and take care of it to the maximum to keep it healthy and away from these aggressions.
Of all, the sun plays a double role. On the one hand, it can be an excellent ally because it provides us with vitamin D for bone strengthening, but it is also the main “aggressor” of our skin because cell damage from sunburn that appears at an early age can have serious consequences in the future.
As the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venerology recalls (AEDV), skin cells are oxidized and their nuclear material is damaged, an injury that persists and is remembered by the skin over time.
Why should we protect ourselves from the sun
During the summer months, and especially in the central hours of the day, it is very important to protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays because excessive exposure to UVB and UVA ultraviolet radiation induces skin damage and leads to a pathophysiological process. which plays a determining role in the development of skin cancer and premature aging.
Avoiding sunburn is essential because the risk of melanoma in adulthood doubles if during childhood or adolescence (in the first 20 years of life) burns have been suffered. From the European campaign Euromelanoma, experts remember that the damage caused by the sun to the skin is permanent; Although the burns disappear, the changes suffered in the skin remain, although they are not visible.
According to research published in Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology, 88% of the people surveyed are aware of the risks of developing skin cancer when exposed without protection. However, four out of ten people do not protect themselves from the sun adequately (except if they are on vacation).
We must bear in mind aspects such as that, although the day is cloudy, we are also exposed to UV rays and that the water does not protect from the sun, although the exposure is less. In addition, in most cases we usually go from nothing to everything, without filters, from staying away from the sun’s rays to endless sunbathing and beach. Preparing the skin for the summer should be a progressive job.
Sunscreen, an effective weapon against the sun
All skin types should be protected with a broad spectrum sunscreen, which helps block type A (UVA) and type B (UVB) ultraviolet rays, which cause skin cancer and contribute to aging. Although no sunscreen is capable of 100% blocking of UV rays, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), it is important to know how to choose the best one.
As Dr. Aitana Robledo, a dermatologist at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation, it is advisable to use a 50+ sunscreen for the face and body, the highest possible. “The SPF or sun protection factor is the protection time we have against exposure to rays,” he explains.
The most recommended is that the SPF is broad spectrum. This means that it protects us from all types of solar radiation: UVB rays, which are those that directly affect the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin and the one that causes melanin to be activated, responsible for the skin becomes tan; UVA rays, those responsible for the appearance of skin aging and spots (photoprotectors have the word UVA surrounded by a circle; infrared protection, responsible for dehydration; protection against visible light, responsible for oxidative stress of the skin).
Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, not forgetting areas that are often overlooked such as the ears, lips, décolleté or the tops of the feet. And we will do it every two hours, or more often if we sweat a lot or get wet. The AEDV advises applying an amount of 2 ml / cm2 or 2 mg / cm2, which would be equivalent to two fingers (index and middle) covered in cream.
Photoprotection without photoprotector, other ways of caring for the skin
Physical protection is also essential. In addition to the use of glasses, which must block at least 99% of ultraviolet (UV) light, other accessories such as wide-brimmed hats or suitable clothing are key.
Dark clothing made of dense fabrics (nylon or polyester) protects us more than light cotton or linen clothing. An effective way to know if clothing fulfills its function is to “put it between the sun and us; if it lets in a lot of light, it is not good to protect us ”, admits the dermatologist.
In addition to clothing, nutrition also plays a decisive role in caring for our skin against inclement summer weather. The vitamin C It is a great help for photoprotection and allows us to fight against oxidative stress. Also nutricosmetics, antioxidants in the form of tablets, help us prepare the skin for the summer.
Other effective ways to protect ourselves is to avoid the sun between the central hours of the day, that is, between 11 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon and try to expose our skin to as little direct sunlight as possible. Finding the shade or using an umbrella if we go to the beach will help us minimize the risks because it reduces exposure to UV rays by 50%.