Home About Sun Protection
The sun has some beneficial virtues for our body !
- It brings us a feeling of wellbeing thanks to the light and to the heat due to the infra-reds.
- It is a regulator of our internal clock: the light, perceived by the retina, causes on the level of the brain the secretion of an hormone, the melatonine, which optimizes the periods of waking and sleeping.
- It allows the synthesis of the vitamin D, necessary to the fixing of calcium on the bones, but 15 to 30 minutes of daily exposure to the sun are enough. In winter our body draws on our reserves.
But why is it absolutely necessary to be protected from the sun?
Because it is necessary to be protected from UV rays.
The exposure to the sun does not have only benefit for health because UV rays are primarily responsible for the premature ageing of the skin and cutaneous cancers.
The sun causes sunstrokes (burns), a premature ageing, allergies and in the most serious cases cancers (melanomas and carcinomas).
The chronic exposure, even without sunstroke, can have the same effect.
UV rays can also cause serious lesions on the eyes.
Sun can also deteriorate immunizing defenses and support certain visceral cancers.
Thus the dangers of the sun are the ultraviolet rays (UV) which can be emitted by natural sources (sun) or artificial ones (lamps of bronzing).
They are completely invisible for the eyes and don’t get any feeling of heat.
We are exposed to 3 types of UV rays:
- UVB : 90% are absorbed by the layer of ozone and represent 5% of solar UV arriving at the surface of the earth. They are those which cause the appearance of the short-term solar radiation, and long-term risks of cancers of the skin and cataract.
- UVA : are very little filtered by the atmosphere. Their action is slow, cumulative and is perceptible in the long-term. They penetrate more deeply in the skin and contribute to the appearance of certain cancers, the early ageing of the skin and the cataract.
- UVC : are very dangerous but almost entirely stopped by the atmosphere, except in case of hole in the layer of ozone (pollution).
Index UV expresses the intensity of solar UV radiation at one time and in a specific place.
The risk which it represents for health is expressed from 1 to 11+ (International Index UV).
The highest the UV index is, the most dangerous it is and the best protection you need.
It is very variable from one country to another (see table of indices UV in the world).
You can know index UV in a place and at one time by consulting the site http://www.soleil.info/uv-meteo/previsions-uv/, or by application SOLEILRISK available for smartphones.
Who has to protect himself from the sun?
Everyone, but the solar risk is not the same for all.
Each one was born with a solar capital: the clearest the skin is, the most the solar capital is reduced. The solar capital is not renewed and decreases progressively with solar exposures.
- Children are more vulnerable than adults.
- Infants must be protected in priority and with an attention without fault.
- People having had a cancer, chemotherapy, are much more vulnerable.
The color of skin, eyes and hair make it possible to define various types of skin in relation to its reaction to the sun.
This is called the phototypes.
To know our type of skin, it is to know our solar capital.
During the bronzing, the skin increases its production of protective pigments: mélanines, manufactured by cells of our skin, the melanocytes.
Bronzing is a natural barrier manufactured by the skin to protect itself from the ultraviolet rays but it is superficial. It filters only one part of them.
A bronzed skin risks thus less the sunstrokes but it does not protect from cutaneous ageing and limits thus little the risk of cancer.
The melanine produced under the action of sun uses two types of pigments: the black brown pigments which helps the sun tan and the red pigments which help the aptitude to redden.
There are 6 different phototypes :
- 0 = Albinos = free of melanine
- 1 = Redhead = sunstrokes without sun tan
- 2 = Fair with clear eyes = sunstrokes, then light sun tan
- 3 = Chestnut brown = sunstrokes, then sun tan
- 4 = Brown = sun tan without sunstroke
- 5 = Mediterranean, metis = idem
- 6 = Black =idem
When are you exposed to UV rays?
- On holiday of course (sea, mountain, countryside).
- While practising sport in the open air (all the year).
- While gardening or tinkering outside.
- While walking on the street.
- According to the place where we live on the earth and according to the season, the radiations of the sun will be more or less strong.
It is necessary to adapt its solar protections to each situation: on the beach, snow, in the countryside, even under the clouds !
- While exposing to artificial UV rays in the solariums or with UV lamps (danger).
- While working:
Some professions, in the open air, are particularly exposed, like the construction workers (roofers, masons), the public workers (roads), the sailors, the farmers, the skiing instructors, etc.
The welders are also exposed to UV rays.
The simultaneous exposure with certain chemicals increases the risk.
Which are the effects of UV on the skin?
Ageing and cancers.
A cancer on three is a cancer of the skin, whereas it can bee avoidable protecting ourselves from UV radiation with simple gestures.
The danger does not only come from sunstrokes, it comes from the “amounts” of UV received throughout the life.
With each new exposure without sufficient protection, the “damage” on the level of your skin worsens (the capital sun decreases).
Take the practice to supervise your skin regularly.
What do skin cancers look like ?
- The actinic keratosis are scabs, often multiple lesions concerning especially the discovered areas (face and hands). They are potentially precancerous but easy to cure.
- Carcinomas are the most frequent cancers of the skin, not endangering the life if they are treated early.
One distinguishes basal-cell carcinomas and epidermoid carcinomas (the most aggressive).
They usually look like lesions in relief, elevated growths or scabs, or like chronic ulcerations (chronic open sores).
Melanomas, by far the most serious, can endanger the life and must be diagnosed as soon as possible to offer the maximum of chances of cure.
How to make the difference between a mole and a melanoma ?
- Regularly examine the totality of your skin by a self examination (including the scalp, the soles, between the toes and the genitals).
- Seek the « Ugly Duckling », that’s to say the naevus (mole) different from the others.
- Be vigilant with any change: a new brown or reddish spot, a mole which quickly changes in its form, size, color or thickness must alert you.
- In case of antecedent of melanoma in your family, you must be more careful and vigilant.
- Trust the criterions of rule ABCDE :
(document from the skin cancer foundation)
The presence of one or more of these signs justifies to consult a doctor but does not necessarily mean that you have a melanoma.
How to protect yourself from the sun?
- Some elements to be known:
The danger does not only come from the sunstrokes . It comes from the “amounts” of UV received throughout the life.
With each new exposure without sufficient protection, the “damage” on the level of your skin worsens (the solar capital decreases).
Pay attention to the reverberation of the sun on water, snow, ground and to the hazy skies.
On water, the reverberation increases the intensity of the rays. In water, UV rays penetrate. Moreover, the feeling of freshness gotten by water can push to prolong its exposure to the sun.
- Means of protection:
. Anti UV clothes are undoubtedly the most effective protection.
They are particularly adapted and practical for children on the beach or the swimming pool.
They are of course also adapted and recommended for adults for all outside sport activities, relaxation and leisure.
People with particular risks like those having already had a melanoma, chemotherapy or in the course of treatment modifying immunity (grafted, etc) must doubly protect themselves.
Think of protecting the scalp, even in the town, especially for the bald people.
Pay attention to the standards of quality of these anti UV clothes which must still protect from the sun when they are wet, some let pass UV !
The fabrics used must be tested and certified by specialized laboratories.
. Solar products : creams, milk, sprays, sticks.
Adapt the index of protection to the situation (zone to be protected, place, hour of the day).
Choose the highest indices by knowing that there is no total screen.
The maximum index is 50+.
. Sunglasses to protect the eyes.
- Will know finally that:
. It is necessary to avoid, as far as possible, the exposures between 12h and 16h.
. It is necessary to pay attention to certain drugs, deodorants and perfumes which can sensitize with the sun (photosensitization) and cause serious allergies and burns with the sun.
. The solar risk varies according to the countries, to the latitudes and the practised activities.
. Avoid artificial UV: they do not prepare the skin and increase the risks of cancer.
Brazil and Australia have banned indoor tanning altogether.
Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have banned indoor tanning for people younger than age 18.