You probably already know that tanning is not healthy and you should not expose yourself to the sun on purpose. However, do you really protect yourself when you are taking your children for a small trip? You definitely should. Staying by the sea or in the mountains means you are at a higher risk of getting sunburned. However, sunrays can cause damage virtually anywhere you may find yourself. The skin can be burned and when the skin is subjected to repeated sunburns during childhood – the likelihood of developing a malignant melanoma rises significantly. In the Czech Republic alone, this disease is responsible for the lives of almost 500 people each year. In addition to these risks, sunbathing is known to cause the skin to age quicker than normal.
“The sun’s rays are the strongest between eleven in the morning and five in the afternoon, i.e. the time when it is best to avoid being subjected to the sun and to protect the skin, be it children or adults” says dermatologist Daniela Vaňousová from Prague’s Canadian Medical Care clinic. Many people do not protect themselves believing that it is not necessary outside of their vacations or rely on not having a light skin color, therefore not getting burned easily. This is not true. While darker skin produces more pigment which protects it from UV damage, it does not mean that it does not age quicker when subjected to the sun. Sunrays also cause damage to the eyes, especially in the morning and evening, when the sunrays are shining at the eyes from a low angle. This can cause an acute conjunctivitis and in the long term, can lead to the formation of cataracts or damage of the internal structures of the eye.
The role of clothing
An ideal form of protection from the sun lies in the clothing a person wears. According to dermatologist Daniela Vaňousová, it is a rule of thumb that synthetic fabrics protect better than cotton. Darker colors do a better job of protecting people than light colors. The thickness of the fabric, its density as well as overall quality also plays a role. Generally, new clothing does a better job than older clothing that has been washed repeatedly. Special clothing with UV protective qualities is also available on the market. Experts recommend this to children because their skin is under the greatest danger. You can find special bathing suits or basic clothing such as T-shirts or trousers that have such qualities. The price is higher than that of standard clothing, but parents will save money on sunscreen which they would otherwise have to use almost all the time throughout the summer. Please note that children with such clothing still need to have sunscreen applied to their unprotected areas. However, you will not need to use as much of it.
Six teaspoons of sunscreen per adult
Sun care products should protect from both UVA and UVB rays. You can generally choose from two types of protection – creams with a UV filter (or blockers) that filter or scatter the UV rays on the surface of the skin or chemical filters which absorb into the skin and absorb harmful UV radiation. However, in order to work as they should, you need to allow for these filters to absorb themselves. Application is therefore recommended at least half an hour prior to you going into the sun.
Make sure that you choose sunscreen with the correct SPF (sun protective factor) which is denoted by numbers. Based on this number, you will know how many times longer your skin will be protected from the sun prior to turning red as opposed to skin without any protection at all. Therefore, as an example, if your skin will get burned in 10 minutes under the sun, sunscreen with an SPF of 20 should prolong that period to 200 minutes.
Theoretically, your sunscreen with a high SPF can protect you for many hours. However, do not rely on this because it can easily be wiped off by clothing, washed out by sweat or by water while bathing. “It is therefore essential to apply sunscreen once every two hours. The layer should be applied at the density of 2 milligrams per square centimeter. In practice, this means that an adult should use around 6 teaspoons of sunscreen while children do not need so much due to their smaller body size. It is definitely not sufficient to only have one pack of sunscreen for the entire family when on vacation” says dermatologist Daniela Vaňousová.
Why sprays are better for men than creams
When choosing the type of sunscreen, keep in mind your type of skin (skin phototype). There are six different skin types, with the lightest being labeled as type 1. Most people in the Czech Republic have type 2 or type 3 phototype and should therefore protect themselves. People under most risk are those with a pale skin type which never get tanned. These are usually people with red hair. When spending your vacation in the Czech Republic or while doing sports, you should use SPF 20 sunscreen. While by the sea, a minimum of 30 SPF is recommended. Higher SPF protection is also recommended for the face to prevent pigment spots and wrinkles.
Children up to six months of age should not be subjected to direct sunlight at all. Children up to two years of age should only use mineral sunscreen with mineral or physical factor protection. “There are many types of products that you can choose from. Light creams are suitable for the face while the lips can be protected by special lip balm sticks. Women can choose to purchase make-up with SPF as well. Men who have hair on their chests should use sprays instead of creams and gels” recommends Daniela Vaňousová. It is also advised that you treat your skin at home even after returning from the outside. This holds especially true if you have spent a number of hours under the sun.
What you should know about melanoma:
- Melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer. However it is the most dangerous type that is responsible for the greatest amount of deaths caused by skin cancer.
- The incidence rate of melanoma in the Czech Republic has risen by over 40% in the last 20 years while in the last 5 years; the rate has been increasing even more rapidly.
- Each year, 10 out of 100,000 people fall ill with melanoma with the number of women being twice greater than that of men.
- Each year, the Czech Republic records approximately 1,100 new cases and approximately 440 deaths caused by this disease.
- Melanoma is most likely to occur in people between the ages of 50 and 60. However, it does also occur in much younger people too.
- With women up to thirty years of age, melanoma is the second most common type of cancer following breast cancer.
- Women tend to usually develop melanoma on lower limbs while men on their backs.