Sunbathing is synonymous with summer – tanning, replenishing our body with Vitamin D, or simply soaking up the seasonal warmth. AMC Staff Dermatologist, Olga Nepomyaschaya, writes about observing a few simple rules the next time you decide to lay out.
The healing power of sunlight has been known to mankind since ancient times – physicians have long recommended their patients to sunbath for the prevention and treatment of many diseases.
Modern science has also proven that exposure to sunlight strengthens the body’s natural immune system producing its own vitamin D while reducing the risk of dangerous diseases such as rickets (in children) and/or osteoporosis (for adults).
But sunlight, like everything, must be measured. As Hippocrates said: «Everything is a medicine, and everything is a poison; everything is a matter of dose».
Too Much of Anything…
Excessive ultraviolet radiation decreases the density of the epidermis resulting in broken elastin and collagen fibers that create deep and fine wrinkles. This effect is called photoaging. In addition, prolonged exposure under the sun’s rays has a devastating effect on the basic DNA of our body’s cells, which may result in melanoma – the most common type of skin cancer. This disease is difficult to be diagnosed and may continue without notice. Unfortunately,a delayed diagnosis can sometimes lead to an irreversible process.
How to Protect Yourself
Protective clothes and appropriate block from the sunlight is mandatory, particularly if one is fair skinned or has photosensitive skin (1-2 photo type). The «risk» group includes people who have relatives who have been diagnosed with melanoma. If exposed to sunlight, it is advisable to use a cream with a protection factor of SPF 50+.
Of course there are many choices of creams to use. A leading cream is Anthelios manufactured by La Roche-Posay. Bioderma is also a well known skin-cream product that I would highly recommend. In choosing the right cream that is best for your skin-type, you should consult with your dermatologist.
Indications for use of sunscreen
A. For skin types that can not tolerate any UV radiation intensity or any of the below:
• Photodermatosis, herpes, acne, rosacea, lupus erythematosus
• Photosensitivity caused by medications, laser operations, peelings
• Dyschromia of the skin (chloasma, vitiligo, etc.)
B. Or if you have a risk of pigmentation appearing with any of the below:
• Skin regeneration after injury
• Receiving drugs-photosensitizers
• Children under 3 years.