How to protect yourself against the sun

There are lots of myths surrounding sun protection. The dermatologist Hans Fischer explains what actually needs to be observed.

Dr Fischer, are there ways of preparing yourself for the sun and its rays?

Before the holidays, it is important to ensure you have the right clothes and the right sun protection. That is how you can go on holiday well prepared.

Does tanning in a solarium really help?

No, although this slightly increases your skin’s own protection factor, it still does not protect you against the negative effects of the sun’s rays. In addition, even the UV rays in the solarium increase the risk of getting skin cancer and make your skin age quicker.

What tips should be followed if you sunbathe?

You should avoid sun exposure at midday. That is when UV radiation is at its highest. 30 minutes before sunbathing, you should put on sunscreen. It is important to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming – even in the case of waterproof sunscreen. This replenishes the amount which is lost through water and sweat. You should be careful with perfumes and body lotions containing scents. Otherwise, the UVA light can trigger skin changes like pigmentation marks.

What is the maximum amount of time you can sunbathe?

The maximum protection time of a sunscreen is calculated as follows: your skin’s own protection time x sun protection factor = the time in minutes which you are allowed to expose yourself to sunshine. Your own protection time depends on your skin type. Important: reapplying sunscreen does not increase its protection time.

Do shade and water offer any protection?

No, you are exposed to up to 80 per cent of the sun’s rays in the shade. Even when swimming or snorkelling, you are at risk of getting sunburnt. The sun’s rays penetrate a depth of up to one metre in the water. Wind is also treacherous: due to the cool air, it is easy to forget about the sun.

Are expensive sunscreens better?

No, you shouldn’t look too much at the price when buying them. Important are the sun protection factor and tolerability. You should use a sunscreen which you find pleasant.

What should you do if you get sunburnt?

Under any circumstances, cool the area down, for example using a damp towel, and then apply after-sun products. However, you should steer clear of ice, cold packs or home remedies like quark. They could delay the healing process. Sunburn occurs four to six hours later at the earliest. If you already notice beforehand that your skin is irritated, a gram of aspirin can have an anti-inflammatory effect.


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