07 December 2015

The sun, a friend or an enemy?

The sun, a friend or an enemy?

The sun is both our best friend and our worst enemy. Without it, no life is possible. However, it can be dangerous! Indeed, it is responsible for skin lesions, accelerated aging and skin cancers. It is therefore necessary to be very careful when dealing with its rays.

If you live in a sunny area or plan to go on holiday in the tropics, this article provides you with valuable information and advice to protect your skin from the sun's harmful effects.


The benefits of the sun

The sun's rays promote the supply of vitamin D, which is beneficial to the calcification of our bones. For these benefits, only a few minutes of exposure per day to moderate sunlight is sufficient. The sun stimulates our morale. It is the light received by our eyes that "boosts" our mind and in some cases helps to fight against seasonal depression. Our sense of well-being is also improved.  UV rays are sometimes used as a treatment for certain skin diseases, such as psoriasis and vitiligo. But the degree of exposure is strictly controlled and patients are closely monitored.

The harmful effects of the sun

In too high a dose, exposure to UV rays causes burns, this is called "sunburn": the skin is red and painful. Then it peels, killing millions of cells. The deeper the skin is affected, the more severe the sunburn. At the same time, repeated sunburn greatly increases the risk of skin cancer, especially if it occurred during childhood.

 As we all now know, skin cancer linked to overexposure to the sun has become a real public health problem with more than 2 million new cases per year worldwide, including 200,000 malignant melanomas and 8,250 in France. Any mole that changes should lead you to consult a dermatologist.

On the other hand, the sun greatly accelerates the skin's ageing process. Indeed, UV rays act on skin cells by breaking their DNA chain. Thus these cells produce less melanin, collagen and elastin, thus contributing to the enhancement of the physiological ageing process. Major skin lesions aggravated by the sun appear: this results in the appearance of brown hyperpigmentation spots and light spots, wrinkles, the skin becomes thinner and drier, causing skin sagging.


Repeated exposure to the sun can also cause:

 - The creation of seborrheic warts, appearing mainly on the back and chest (but also sometimes on the face). Unlike pigment spots, these are "raised".

 - The formation of actinic keratoses that cause localized thickening of the flaking skin. They sit, like pigment spots, on areas exposed to the sun, such as the backs of hands and face.

 Exposure to UV rays in combination with certain drugs (such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, etc.) makes the skin photosensitive and triggers skin reactions. This is also the case with some cosmetics.


Protect your skin from the sun

If you expose yourself to the sun, never expose yourself to it for long periods of time, always wear glasses and a hat or cap and stay in the shade as much as possible. Always apply a protective cream with a filtration index against UVA and B type 50 and repeat the application every two hours.

 Never expose yourself between noon and 2pm. If you can't do otherwise, wear a T-shirt, and most importantly, don't expose the children.

 To protect your skin from the sun even outside of holidays, in the city, even if you have matt skin or you are already tanned, apply sunscreen with a factor of 20 to 30 every day from spring. There are many brands that include a sunscreen in their day creams that will save you from having to apply two products. In general, choose good quality creams by favouring dermo-cosmetic brands (sold in pharmacies and parapharmacies).


Moisturize yourself to the maximum

In general, drink plenty of water, especially if you are exposed to the sun. To optimize the hydration of your skin, apply a moisturizing serum systematically, whether under your day cream, your sun protection cream, but also in the evening before your moisturizing and/or anti-wrinkle treatment, as well as a specific cream for the eye area.  Regularly apply an ultra-moisturizing and repairing mask to your face and an after-sun cream to your body after your return from the beach, pool or outdoor activity.


In conclusion

If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the sunny world, protect your skin from the sun every day and limit exposure. If you are going on holiday in a sunny area, enjoy the sun while remaining very careful. It would be a shame to spoil a holiday for lack of vigilance!