Easter is just around the corner and for many, this means a cozy cabin on the mountain or by the water. The weather gets better and the sun's rays provide heat. They usually also affect the mood in a positive direction. Unfortunately, many people forget to take the necessary precautions to protect their skin in the Easter sun.
As dermatologists, we see an annual increase in skin cancer and precursors to skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Norway today, and melanoma in particular occurs frequently. According to the WHO, the cause in 90% of cases is UV radiation from both natural sun and tanning beds.
In this article, we will therefore go a little in depth on the properties of the sun and come up with good advice on how to take care of the skin in the Easter sun.
About the sun's properties and UV radiation
The sun's rays consist of a wide range of rays where UV rays make up only a small part of the total image. UV stands for ultraviolet and is divided into UVA and UVB rays. Sunlight contains almost the same amount of UVA rays from sunrise to sunset and regardless of whether it is winter or summer.
Simply put, UVA is responsible for the effects of aging in the skin. The UVA rays are divided into short and long rays where the long ones penetrate deep into the dermis and destroy the components that keep the skin tight and firm.
The UVB rays do not penetrate as deep into the skin but can still cause great damage. If we get too much UVB rays on the skin, we get sunburned. Getting sunburned creates an inflammatory condition in the skin that is harmful to the skin cells and especially the genetic material in them.
The more times you have been sunburned, the greater the risk of developing skin cancer.
The intensity of the UV rays is measured in the UV index. This scale goes from 1-15, where below 3 is low, 3-6 is
moderate, 6-8 high and 8-10 very high. UV index above 10 is extremely high. Factors affecting
the index includes how high the sun is in the sky and how high you are in relation to sea level.
It is also the case that surfaces such as water, snow and sand reflect the UV rays in sunlight, and therefore increase the risk of sunburn.
Be extra careful on the Easter mountain
After a long winter where the sun is low in the sky here at home, it is easy to forget to start using sunscreen again. But because the sun gets stronger throughout the spring, it is important to remember to protect the skin from the rays.
If, for example, you are up in the high mountains at Easter, the UV index will be higher here. If you have a cabin by the water, this is also a factor that increases the risk of sun damage. Therefore, it is extra important to take care of the skin in the Easter sun. The general recommendation is that you wear protective clothing and sunscreen when staying in the sun at a UV index above 3.
Sunscreen consists of several components. It is made up of a moisturizing cream, lotion or oil
where a sun filter has been added to protect against the sun's rays. One often hears about sunscreen when
one reads about sunscreens.
A sunscreen is either a physical sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen. A physical sunscreen usually consists of small metal particles that form a protective layer on the skin that reflects the rays away.
A chemical filter consists of small molecules that penetrate into the skin where they absorb the sun's rays and convert them into heat.
Often a sunscreen consists of both a physical and a chemical filter. It is important that the sunscreen you use protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.
Which factor should you choose?
Which sunscreen you should use depends on your skin type. Here it is generally said that the lighter skin type you have, the higher sun factor you need.
In Norway, the recommendation is to use at least a factor of 15, while in sunnier countries it is recommended to use at least a factor of 30.
It is recommended to apply sunscreen on the skin, preferably half an hour before going out in the sun.
Remember to apply a good layer of sunscreen, it takes more than you think. For an adult, you should use around 45 ml of sunscreen to be able to lubricate the whole body. It's about a handful of sunscreen. It is also important to apply sunscreen on the lips.
Remember to repeat the application often to maintain protection, especially if you have sweated or
dried you it is important to lubricate yourself again.
Remember that children have a higher risk of developing sun damage to the skin, partly because the skin structure is thinner.
Some simple tips to protect your skin in the Easter sun are therefore:
- Use enough sunscreen
- Lubricate all skin exposed to the sun
- Remember to lubricate yourself often
- Take breaks from the sun when it is strongest (between approx. 12 noon and 15 pm)
- Wear clothes that protect against the sun
With these tips, we wish you a happy Easter.