Stating that it has been proven by many scientific studies that excessive or uncontrolled sunbathing causes skin spots, wrinkles and even skin cancer, Medicana Kadıköy Hospital Dermatology Specialist Uzm. Dr. Onur Çapkan said that there are 3 important steps in protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Çapkan said, “Avoiding direct sunlight and staying in the shade reduces the UV light exposure by 75 percent. The UV index information, which can also be seen in weather applications on smartphones, can guide you. Especially if this value is 3 and above, it must be protected. The UV index is the scale of the amount of radiation that is expected to reach the earth during the day when the sun is at its peak and that can be harmful.
Saying that there are two types of sunscreens, physical and chemical sunscreens, Çapkan said, “Physical sunscreens protect the skin like a shield, reflecting the sun’s rays and allowing them to go away. They are not absorbed through the skin. Those with sensitive skin, babies and especially pregnant women should prefer 100% physical, mineral-filtered protectors. Physical sunscreens contain natural minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Their effects begin as soon as they are expelled.”
Çapkan gave the following information about chemical sunscreens:
“Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays like a sponge. It is easy to apply to the skin and is absorbed without leaving a white residue. It may contain oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate. Systemic absorption has been demonstrated in very intensive use. For this reason, the selected products must be approved, of high quality and reliable.”
Capkan, who warned that care should be taken in the selection and use of sunscreen, said, “Sunscreens with a protection factor of at least 30 should be preferred. Sunscreens containing 100% mineral filter should be preferred for babies older than 6 months and pregnant women.
For oily and combination skin, water-based products or products in gel form should be chosen. Cream forms, body spray or milk forms can be used for dry skin. It should be applied equally to all areas. Reducing the amount that needs to be applied will significantly reduce the level of protection. In order to ensure the continuity of sun protection, the application process should be repeated after sweating, swimming or drying with a towel.
Specialist Dr. Onur Çapkan continued his words as follows:
“Sunscreens should be applied 20 minutes before going out in the sun and should be repeated every 2-3 hours. Since sunscreens are not applied 100% to the whole body and are not repeated so often, it is not true that they prevent the production of vitamin D in practice. In addition, vitamin D can be taken more safely with a healthy diet or vitamin supplements. Sunbathing should be avoided between 11 and 16 hours, when the sun’s rays are more steep. Outside of these hours, only half an hour of sun exposure from the arms and legs is sufficient for daily vitamin D production.
“The effectiveness of sunscreens in the prevention of skin cancer, which is one of the most common cancers, is indisputable,” said Çapkan, “One of the most important risk factors for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma is unprotected long-term sun exposure. Sudden sunburns, blistering sunburns significantly increase the risk of malignant melanoma, one of the worst skin cancers. Long-term accumulated sun exposure increases the risk of basal and squamous cell skin cancer.
Even in childhood, recurrent unprotected sun exposure and burns significantly increase the risk of skin cancers that can be seen in advanced ages. For this reason, protection should be considered in childhood as well. Sunscreens should contain both UVA and UVB protection. UVA goes down to the lower layers of the skin; skin aging is associated with blemishes, wrinkles, and skin cancers. “UVB affects the upper layers of the skin and is associated with sunburns and skin cancer.”
Underlining that sunscreens should be used throughout the year in countries like Turkey that receives sunlight for 4 seasons, Çapkan said, “UVA rays can pass through windows and vehicle windows. For this reason, it is recommended to continue protection at home. Products such as humidifiers with a protection factor of 15 can be preferred for domestic use.
Up to 80 percent of the UV rays that damage the skin come as a filter from the clouds and continue their harmful effect. For this reason, sunscreen should be used in cloudy weather. Sun rays are reflected from surfaces such as the sea, pool or snow, so sunscreens should be used in summer and winter even if it is in the shade. The use of hats and sunglasses must be added to the protection. If you have a sensitive and problematic skin type, you can consult your dermatologist and choose the appropriate products.”