Sun exposure: What you must Know…

With summer here and the sun sizzling, learning how to care for our skin is critical. HEALTH unravels the tips to staying safe in the sun.

sun protection

Skin Cancer in UAE

According to specialist dermatologist Dr.Muhsen Kalaji, reports indicate that the number of cases of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer is increasing in UAE. “Skin cancer usually is more prevalent among the population with a light-skin tone or skin types 1, 2, and 3 and less common in darker skin tones as these people usually tolerate relatively high  levels of sun exposure without getting sunburnt,” he says, therefore the most prominent high risk factors for having skin cancer are sun exposure, subsequent sunburns and skin color.

The Damage from Sun Exposure

Solar radiation has several effects on the skin; some of them can be temporary such as sunburn and some of them can be long-term and more serious such as skin cancer, indicates Dr. Kalaji. “In addition, the sun can cause several other problems; one is pigmentation that occurs because of the increased melanin production in the skin which protects the  skin from the UV rays,” he says, for instance melasma, freckles, and solar lentigo. “Another effect that is caused by sun exposure is wrinkling and skin aging however this condition depends on the accumulative exposure the skin had to sun,” he says. However resurfacing the skin using either potent peels or lasers can treat this condition.

Steps To Protect Our Skin

  1. Dr. Kalaji urges to use a sunscreen on the face and all other exposed areas regularly on a daily basis. “Keep in mind that the efficacy of this agent only lasts for two to three hours so if you are outdoors reapply every three hours to ensure full protection,” he says.
  2. Wear large sized UV protectant sunglasses when outdoors as this helps you to protect the eyes and the area around the eyes.
  3. Wear a hat and long sleeved loose clothes in order to protect your body from the sun.
  4. Avoid direct sun exposure during the hours that the rays are at their peak; from 9 am to 4 pm.

Signs of a Skin Irregularity

to detect any new lesion or old lesion that is changing and in this case, immediately consult your doctor. Signs of skin cancer can be one of the following:

  1. A sore that does not heal.
  2. Any skin lesions that might be raised, shiny, looks pearly or firm, looks like a scar, or may be white or waxy; which do not resolve after treatment.
  3. Any scaly bleeding or crusty lesion that stays after treatment.
  4. Any cracking and peeling of the lips that does not resolve with the use of moisturizers.
  5. Any changes to moles; whether growing bigger in size, irregular borders, having symptoms such as bleeding or itchiness on it; are a red flag to consult your doctor.
  6. It is highly recommended to undergo a full medical exam with a dermatologist regularly to detect any suspicious lesions.

Sun Protection Factor

We should always use a sun protection with an SPF of 30 and above to ensure protection, advises Dr. Kalaji. “Also it is better to use sun
protection that contains physical sunscreens such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as these give a more potent sun protection without
affecting the skin,” he says. In addition, it is very important to use a sunscreen that is suitable for the skin type and condition.

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