~ B E  S U M M E R  R E A D Y ~

Dr Tarryn Jacobs is a specialist Dermatologist in private practice in Pretoria and she will be sharing some helpful info on skincare & being SUN SAFE this SUMMER.

Her clinical interests include chronic inflammatory skin diseases and early skin cancer detection. Dr Jacobs is passionate about education and promotion of skin health in her local and social media communities.

What is the effect of sun on my skin?

Continued and repeated exposure to the sun can cause permanent damage to the skin. Over time the cumulative UV radiation exposure can cause DNA damage in the skin cells. This damage can result in skin cancers, and precancerous lesions called solar keratoses.

In addition to these severe effects, the sun is also the most common cause of skin aging, which we call photoaging. UVB rays are absorbed by skin cells and cause damage to cellular DNA. UVA rays, on the other hand, penetrate deeper in the skin and is the main cause of photoaging. The sun is thought to contribute 80-90% of what we see as visible signs of aging. This includes wrinkles, sun spots, visible blood vessels (telangiectasia) and loss of elasticity.

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”, and it is the measure of the efficacy of sunscreens by focusing on the time it takes for UVB rays to cause the skin to go red. When adequately applied a product with an SPF of 15 would allow 15 times as much time in the sun with the same level of redness as if without applying sunscreen. Similarly, a product with the SPF of 30 would allow 30 times as much exposure than without sunscreen. So this does not mean that an SPF 30 product absorbs twice as much radiation as the SPF 15 product. Higher number SPF blocks slightly more of the suns UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 per cent of the suns UVB rays.

Generally, I would recommend an SPF 30 at least for everyday wear. Look for a sunscreen that says broad-spectrum, meaning it has both UVA and UVB coverage.

How much and how often should I apply sunscreen?

Sunscreen needs to be applied every 90 minutes to get the SPF that is on the bottle. Many of us are guilty of not doing this! Find simple ways to touch up – e.g. facial spray sunscreens or powder forms that can be applied over makeup or on the go.

Most of us also do not apply the right amount of sunscreen. At least a shot glass of sunscreen is needed for the whole body, that equates to 35mls. A good way to remember this is about a teaspoon for every body area.

What is “sun allergies” and “photosensitivity”?

Photosensitivity occurs when the skin reacts in an abnormally sensitive way to the sun or artificial sources of light. It usually presents as an eczema-like skin condition on sun-exposed areas. A sun allergy (photo-allergy) is a type of photosensitivity disorder. Many things can cause this, including medications, plants, autoimmune conditions or genetic disorders.

What causes my skin to “tan”?

Tanning is also known as delayed pigment darkening, which develops in individuals over hours to days of sun exposure. After our skin is exposed to sunlight, the pigment cells called melanocytes produce a pigment called melanin, in an attempt to absorb the UVR. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself. There is no safe way to tan! Every time you tan, you damage your skin cells, and as this damage builds, you speed up your skin aging and your risk for skin cancer.

What does it mean if the sunscreen states it is “water resistant”?

The term water-resistance indicates that a sunscreen product’s labelled SPF protection is retained for a certain period of time after immersion in water. Sunscreen can be Water Resistant (effective for up to 40 minutes in water), or Very Water Resistant (effective for up to 80 minutes in water). Do remember to reapply after getting out of the water, even when using a water-resistant sunscreen.

Can I use the same opened bottle of sunscreen that I used last year? Would it still be effective? Or does it have a “shelf life”?

Sunscreen does expire. Most sunscreens should include an expiration date – if the date has passed, throw it out! Generally, sunscreen should last for up to three years.

How can I protect my children’s skin from the harmful UV rays? And do they need more or different protection from the sun than adults?

Parents need to take all the necessary measures to protect their children’s skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. Sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer, and it only takes one blistering sunburn during childhood to double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life. Teaching children sun-safe behaviour is essential from an early age. Use a high SPF, water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA+UVB coverage) sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens containing physical blockers such as Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide are excellent choices for children as the ingredients are gentler on children’s sensitive skin. 
Do not rely on sunscreen as the only method of sun protection. It should be used in conjunction with protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, UV suits and rash guards.

A ‘take home message’ for all the parents (& grandparents)?

Remember – prevention is better than cure! Keep your skin looking healthy, protect it and check it regularly.

Thank you, Dr Jacobs, for empowering us with helpful info and SUN SAFE tips! 🌞

👉 Go check out Dr Tarryn Jacobs’ IG account @drtarrynjacobs ♥️

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