In our day-to-day lives we protect our bodies from the sun by covering them with clothes. The only time we think about sun protection is when our bodies are fully exposed, on holiday, for long periods of time. But it’s important to protect body skin whenever it is exposed to UV rays, whether it’s a sunny day outside or, for example, when wearing short-sleeved tops, shorts or skirts.
Facial and body skin have different needs when it comes to sun protection. Protection for the face is designed to address the specific needs of thinner, more exposed skin. It may also contain tints to give an even complexion.
Read more about the effect of the sun on the face.
Read more about skin structure.
UVB rays are responsible for acute UV damage: sunburn. They penetrate less deeply into the skin but are the main cause for direct DNA damage. Unprotected skin can get red, blistered and extremely painful. This is particularly dangerous in children and adolescents as it increases risk of developing epithelial skin cancer and malignant melanomas later in life. Read more about protecting children from sunburn.
Premature skin ageing
Deep wrinkling and reduced skin density is one of the negative effects of sunlight. Read more about premature skin ageing .
Excessive sun exposure is the number one cause of hyperpigmentation - a condition that leads to dark spots appearing on skin. Read more about hyperpigmentation.
Polymorphic Light Eruption (PLE)
Body skin that is usually covered up can react when exposed to sun – for example in spring or on a holiday, This condition, characterised by an itchy, burning rash, is known as PLE.
Acne aestivalis (also known as Mallorca acne)
Unlike Acne vulgaris, this rash of red, inflamed lesions is not caused by hormonal changes and bacteria, but by the skin’s reaction to hot sunshine and certain ingredients found in skin care products and sunscreens. Acne aestivalis is very similar to PLE and it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.
Sun protection is also important for sufferers of Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis as skin is already dry. Topical medications can make affected skin more susceptible to sunburn. Read more about Atopic Dermatitis.
A diabetic’s skin binds water less efficiently than a healthy person’s skin does. The moisture deficiency often causes intense itchiness, which can affect the entire body. Sunlight desiccates the skin further and makes it more susceptible to infections. The reduced pain perception experienced by diabetics also increases the risk for sunburn.
There are four types of cancer or pre-cancer associated with UV rays. Actinic keratosis appears as a small, rough raised area on skin that has been in the sun for a long period of time. Some actinic keratoses may develop into a type of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It presents as open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars. Squamous cell carcinoma shows as a persistent red, scaly patch that can bleed if aggravated. It is the second most common skin cancer in people of caucasion origin. Finally, the most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-coloured, pink, red, purple, blue or white.
If you have any concerns about your skin, it is important to seek professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.
The best way to avoid sun-related skin conditions is to avoid the sun wherever possible. As this isn’t always possible, or desirable, the next most important thing is sun protection. It’s important to realise that harmful rays can still reach skin on cloudy days, in the shade and in water, so awareness is needed above and beyond the hours spent sunbathing.
While sunlight has many positives – improved mood, production of vitamin D, better circulation and increased melanin production – the harmful effects of UVA rays (eye damage, immune suppression, premature skin ageing, genetic mutations (melanoma), sun allergy and sun intolerance) and UVB rays (eye damage, tanning (Asian skin), sunburn and genetic mutations/non-melanoma skin cancers) must be avoided to prevent skin damage.
Some people are more prone than others to sun-related skin damage and skin conditions. This can be down to a number of factors including:
People with red or light blonde hair, very pale skin tone and many freckles are most likely to suffer from sunburn and are least likely to tan.
People suffering from Psoriasis or Atopic Dermatitis tend to have dry, sensitive skin and therefore need special suncare.
This skin reaction mostly affects young to middle-aged women (25-40).
To find out more about certain skin conditions or for any medical advice speak to a doctor or pharmacist.
It is extremely important to protect skin from sun damage because if damage is too severe skin is not able to repair itself and the damage can become irreversible.
To protect body’s skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation:
For normal skin, Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light is available as SPF 30 and SPF 50+ and is easily absorbed.
For dry skin try Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light SPF 30/50+ which has been clinically proved in patients with problematic dry skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis.
For atopic skin try Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light SPF 50, which has been clinically proven in patients with this skin condition.
For sensitive, oily and blemish-prone skin Eucerin Transparent Sun Spray Dry Touch offers clinically tested, ultra-light protection, with broadband UVA/UVB filter system and biological cell protection. It is available in SPF 30 and SPF 50.
For sensitive, allergy-prone skin there is Eucerin Allergy Protection Sun Creme-Gel, available as SPF 50. It is free from perfume and emulsifiers to minimise the risk of intolerance and has proved to be effective with people suffering sun allergies like PLE and acne aestivalis. Use in conjunction with Eucerin Allergy Protection After Sun Creme-Gel.
As well as sun screen creams and lotions, there are further ways to help protect skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation:
If you want any advice about skin damage from the sun, please ask your doctor or pharmacist.