Before you pack up the family or jet away to sunnier climes, spare a thought for your vulnerable skin! Most people living in Ireland have skin type 1 or 2 which means they are particularly at risk from too much sun exposure. Did you know that too much sun leads to skin ageing, including wrinkles and unsightly spots, or that you can get sunburnt on a cloudy day and even under the water!
Here’s a few ‘top tips’ to keep your skin in ‘tip top’ shape:
The sun is a source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and there are two types we need to know about: UVA and UVB.
UVA rays penetrate more deeply through the layers of the skin than UVB. Think A for ageing – UVA is associated with skin ageing as well as skin cancer. Did you know that UVA can pass through window glass and is present year round, even on cloudy days.
Think B for burning -UVB rays are mainly responsible for sunburn but can’t pass through window glass. UVB is strongly associated with two types of skin cancer – malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. More about UV here.
Sunscreens help protect our skin by filtering out the sun’s UV rays. Depending on their active ingredients, sunscreen can act like a mirror, reflecting UV radiation away from the skin (e.g. when it contains filters such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) or a sponge, and absorb UV radiation.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and shows the degree of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB only. It is rated on a scale from 2-50+. Remember, the higher the factor, the greater the level of protection against UVB.
Protection against UVA is often indicated by a star system or a UVA logo enclosed within a circle. The higher the number of stars, the greater the level of protection.
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30+, with high UVA protection (ideally 4 or 5 stars), and water-resistant if you intend on swimming, in addition to protective clothing and shade.
A person’s natural skin colour influences their vulnerability to sun damage and risk of skin cancer so it’s a good idea to know your skin type, to get a better sense of the care you need to take in the sun. More here.
Some people think a tan is healthy! NOT TRUE! A tan indicates that skin has been damaged by UV radiation, this damage is cumulative!
Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you are shielded from the sun. Over 90% of UV can pass through light cloud, at half a metre depth under water UV is still 40% as intense as at the surface, and some UV can pass through glass! Learn more here.
Your risk of sunburn depends on your location, the time of year and time of day. Severe sunburns, especially in childhood, can lead to skin cancer including melanoma. So remember, no sunbaking and no sun burning.
Remember the five ‘Ss’ of sun safety – Slip on a t-shirt, Slop on (broad-spectrum) sunscreen factor 30+, Slap on a hat, Slide on sunglasses, Seek shade.
The Irish Skin Foundation has launched Protect & Inspect™, a sun awareness health promotion campaign, targeting the sun-loving public but with a particular focus on those who intend to spend time holidaying in the sun, whether at home or abroad.
For more information about skin cancer and other skin conditions, visit www.irishskin.ie
- Ryanair staff