Skin & Sun

UV-Radiation

Sun is good in moderation and is vital for health. But it has its dark sides. Most skin damage and a major part of skin ageing is caused by UVA and UVB radiation. Short-wave UVB radiation (280 to 320 nm) penetrates the uppermost layer of skin and is responsible for an increased risk of skin cancer. UVB radiation leads to pigmentation through the formation of the skin colorant, melanin. UVB radiation is also responsible for the thickening of the protective cornified layer at the surface of the skin (hyperkeratosis). However, it can take days or even weeks until melanin and hyperkeratosis can contribute to skin protection. Until then, the skin is exposed to the damaging effects of UV light.

Longer-wave UVA radiation (320 nm to 400 nm) reaches even the deeper lying layers of skin. It can penetrate to the connective tissue of the skin and cause permanent damage there, leading to premature ageing of the skin. UVA causes rapid pigmentation and immediate tanning. However, the primary effect is that the melanin already present is transported towards the surface and is therefore visible. There is practically no new formation of melanin. The skin damage resulting from UVA radiation is not initially visible and only becomes apparent after many years. UVA radiation can be said to plant time bombs in the skin.

Sun & Protection

Too much exposure to sunlight not only increases the risk of skin cancer but also leads to the premature aging of the skin. Since 80% of sun damage occurs in childhood or youth, skin must be protected from sunlight from very early childhood onwards. Important factors: stay in the shade, particularly at noon, wear suitable clothing and apply sunscreen.

What is the sun protection factor (abbreviation: LF, LSF, SPF)?

The sun protection factor indicates how much longer you can stay in the sun with a sunscreen without the skin burning compared with natural protection time. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 12 allows you to sunbath twelve times longer without sunburn, in mathematical terms. However, natural protection time varies widely according to skin type.

Skin Types

There are basically four skin types. Skin type I typically has extremely pale and sensitive skin with ginger hair and freckles. Skin type I never tans and burns quickly. Skin type VI has dark skin and black hair. This skin type rarely suffers from sunburn. The other skin types lie between these, with seamless transitions between them.

Sun protection factor

In Central Europe sunscreens have sun protection factors ranging from 2 and 60. The American sun protection factor (SPF) is almost twice as high as the European one. An SPF of 16 therefore corresponds to a European SPF 8. The sun protection factor always applies to the whole day. Repeated application is advisable to ensure the full protective effect is maintained. Even on cloudy days or in the shade, UV radiation can still amount to 30 to 50 per cent.

Skin and Solarium

“Catch some sun" at the touch of a button – for many people a visit to a tanning studio is part of daily routine. As easy as a trip to a solarium is, just as dangerous are the possible side-effects. Premature skin ageing, the damage caused by intensive radiation on the subbed, is already evident after just five years. Solarium use also brings an increased risk of cancer.

“Healthy tanning in a solarium” is a myth. There is no natural or artificial UV light that causes tanning and excludes changes to the skin. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has therefore spoken out against the use of solariums. It describes solariums as definitely carcinogenic. Since early 2009 in Germany, for example, young people under the age of 18 are not allowed to use a solarium.

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