You will have probably heard a lot about UV Index on the news?
The UV index lets us know how many, how much, or how strong the UV rays are, that are coming from the sky that day.
0 to 2 is a mild UV index
3 to 7 is a moderate one
8 and above is a severely high UV index, so you’re going to get huge exposure under those circumstances.
There are different kinds of UV exposure.
There’s UVA exposure, UVB exposure and HEV exposure.
UVA rays account for 95% of the damaging rays. It’s only in the last recent couple of years that we’ve really started to focus the research on these, and how for example, our DNA is changed and our cells are damaged leading to cancerous changes. It can also suppresses our immune system, making us vulnerable to viruses and bacterial infections. They’re long rays UVA rays that come through the clouds, they’re there on rainy days, they’re there all the time.
So we really need to be protecting ourselves from these rays as well, they go down to the dermal layers, and they cause DNA changes, and cellular changes and cell death. This is where the melanomas start to occur. If you’re protecting yourself from UVB rays with your SPF sunblock, but staying out in the sun longer and not protecting yourself from UVA rays, you’re putting yourself at more harm, you won’t burn but you will be exposed to the UVA rays for a longer period of time.
The UVA rays go down to the dermis and they affect your collagen, your blood vessels and your elastin so they affect you and your skin, so you start to get wrinkles and fine lines and things like that.
With sunbeds, I’ve heard a lot of things said that people say to me like “I’m going to go and get myself a safe tan”. There is no such thing as a safe tan, a tan is your body’s way of protecting itself from further damage. Some people also say they’re going to prepare their skin and toughen their skin up, by going on the sunbeds, and this will get them ready for their holiday, so they’ll be able to go out in the sun more and get a better tan when they’re on holidays.
Some brands of sun beds are actually classified as a type one carcinogen, so they cause cell death and they can expose you to more than 10 to 15% more UV exposure, than the heat in the middle of the day in the Mediterranean. They are much more dangerous than going out in the actual sun.
UVB rays are the short rays. They account for only 5% of the actual UV rays that are emitted. And they cause the burn.
If you think you’re covered from the UV burn rays, then you’re putting yourself at more exposure because you’re staying out in the sun, longer. The SPF covers you for the UVB rays, they are the short rays. The damage causes short-term damage on the surface of the skin and they cause the burn.
You’ll go out in the sun for a couple of hours, you’ll put your sun protection factor on, then you’ll stay out a bit longer, and you’ll start to get red, and you’ll go red after two to four hours, and then you’ll go home that night, a chemical is released in your body, and your blood vessels become a bit leaky, and then the swelling and the pain starts. So that’s the burn factor.
This is your mobile phones, your laptops, your computers. Anything that’s emitting a blue light onto your face. This is really relevant at the moment because we’re spending so many more hours in front of the laptop during the day on Zoom calls, and we’re all working from home. Also please protect yourself against HEV or be aware of it. You can get blue light protectors on your phone and your laptops to help protect yourself.
There is no such thing as a safe tan. A tan is your body’s flawed attempt to protect your skin from further DNA damage.
What you should be looking for is a broad spectrum, sunscreen.
There are sunscreens out there with chemical barriers and physical barriers.
If you’re putting a physical filter onto your face like zinc or something like that, then it’s going to reflect the rays off of your face.
If you’re putting a chemical screen it changes the light energy into heat energy.
Some people have allergic reactions to chemical filters, and they penetrate a bit too deep and cause a few problems with rashes etc.
Physical sunscreen sometimes can get a bit thick going on to the skin, and it can become chalky. I remember as a kid, we used to have glow pink ones and glow green ones and we used to draw all over each other it was quite fun. You can get your kids involved in this and make sure they’re protected. Set good examples from when they’re really little, and they’ll grow up and it’ll just be a habit to them, so that they won’t go out without their sunscreen on.
When I was in school, we used to say “slip, slop slap”…. slip on a shirt, slap on some sunscreen, slop on a broad brim hat and get out in the yard and play!!!
Exposing yourself to that sun for small amounts of time to get your vitamin D exposure, only takes about 20 minutes a day. It will take some supplements, but don’t allow yourself overexposure to those UVA rays, that cause those dangerous melanoma changes in your skin cells. These last a long time.
If you’re going into clinics and you’re paying a lot of money for your skin treatments, and you’re going back there 3 or 4 or 5 times a year, then you’re doing yourself a disservice, if you’re not using a simple sun screen, a broad-spectrum sunscreen, then your treatments will last a shorter amount of time, as they will metabolise quicker because they’re exposed to those UV rays.
There’s a lot of different sunscreens on the market and it can get a bit confusing, especially if you have some allergies. Some people have oily skin, some people have dry skin. Some people say the sunscreen feels too oily under their makeup, and they want to put makeup on top of it, so they prefer a drier one.
Look for a broad protection sunscreen, it will protect your skin for longer, you’ll get fewer wrinkles, fewer fine wrinkles, less sun damage and no melanomas, that’s what we want.
Covering yourself with sunscreen will protect your skin for the long run. You will age slower, and everybody loves fewer wrinkles don’t they!!!
So, some quick take-home tips….
Limit your exposure to UV rays. Just enough for your daily dose of vitamin D
Invest in some decent sunglasses, that offer UVA and UVB protection.
Use enough sunscreen to cover your whole body. Put a good tablespoon in your hand, put half of it onto your face. Put another tablespoon on your hand, rub the rest of it on your body.
So let’s protect our skin and live long healthy lives.
Just drop me a message, and we can have a chat about your sunscreen and what you need to protect you in the best way.
Advanced Nurse Practitioner