Sun Protection Guide for Holidaymakers
A TNS study into the British holiday market found that around 7 in 10 Britons go away on holiday or take a short break at least once a year, with 44 per cent of adults travelling overseas once or more each year and 61 per cent choosing to holiday at home. One of the suitcase items that should feature as priority on every holidaymaker’s list is sun cream. It’s likely that you’ve heard of the dangers and health risks associated with a lack of sun protection, but when you intend on travelling to a hotter climate for your holiday, sun protection becomes even more important. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can best protect yourself from the sun when you’re on holiday, as well as how you can deal with the subsequent effects of sun exposure.
Dangers of excessive sun exposure
By exposing your skin to the sun for too long, and in too high a temperature than you’re used to, you run the risk of developing sunburn. Not only is sunburn painful, it can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Although anyone can be affected by skin cancer, you’re more likely to develop it if you have more than one of the following characteristics:
- Fair skin which burns quickly in the sun
- Many moles or freckles
- Red hair or blond hair
- Light-coloured eyes
- Someone in your family has had skin cancer
- You’ve been sunburnt a lot
Those with dark skin are less likely to develop skin cancer, as their skin cells contain a greater level of melanin pigment, which helps to protect skin from the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays. That doesn’t mean that you should forgo sun cream however, as it can still develop in the areas of your skin which are not frequently exposed to the sun.
On a less extreme level, excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can also accelerate the ageing process, leading to early development of wrinkles, and giving your skin a thick, leathery feel.
Sun damaged skin and wrinkles can be treated fairly easily, for example with a course of Skin Peels and Medical Microdermabrasion for the former, which help by encouraging cell renewal and leave skin looker more rejuvenated; or with Line & Wrinkle treatment for the latter, to help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and give skin a more youthful appearance. However, they can both also be avoided, or at least delayed in the case of wrinkles, by ensuring that you stay protected in the sun.
Effective sun protection
There are many ways in which you can protect your skin from the sun:
- Apply sun cream
One of the easiest ways to protect your skin from the sun is the regular application of sun cream. It is recommended that you use sun cream containing both UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. If you’re going on holiday to a hotter country then it is wise to use sun cream with an SPF of 30 or more, particularly if you have fair skin that’s prone to burning.
You should ensure that sun cream is applied liberally and often. If you only apply it first thing in the morning then the chances are that after a few hours, your skin will no longer be protected, as a lot of sun cream gets easily removed through swimming, sweating or towel drying.
It is also wise to choose a sun cream product which is tailored to both your skin and your activity. Sun cream comes in a variety of forms, including lotion, spray, gel, stick and cream. You may also find that water-resistant creams help to protect your skin for longer if you intend on doing a lot of swimming. For sportier types, sweatproof sun cream is recommended, while those with sensitive skin should look for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic sun cream.
Make sure you pay extra attention to those often-missed areas, such as lips, ears, neck, feet and hands, as they are often the first to burn in strong heat. You should apply sun cream around 20 minutes before going out into the sun, and reapply every couple of hours, particularly after coming out of the swimming pool.
- Stay out of the sun
Whether you’re on holiday or at home, it is important that you take regular breaks from the sun, during the hottest parts of the day. The sun is at its strongest, and therefore most damaging, between the hours of 11am and 3pm, so you should try to stay in the shade or spend time indoors during this time.
You can also look at the length of your shadow to determine whether the sun is at its strongest – if it looks shorter than your height then you should spend some time in the shade. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can only get sun damage from beach holidays – the sun’s UV rays get stronger, the higher you go. Which means that if you’re going on a skiing holiday, you should take care to avoid being outside at the hottest time of day.
- Dress wisely
Going on holiday doesn’t have to involve short and t-shirts and skimpy bikinis. If you’re prone to sunburn, you may find that you can help to reduce your risk of sun damage by dressing differently. Long-sleeved t-shirts and long pants in dark colours offer the most protection for your skin.
Many people choose to wear a t-shirt while swimming to protect their shoulders and chest from the sun. When you come out of the water however, always remember to change into a dry t-shirt – otherwise UV rays will still be able to get through and damage your skin.
You can protect your head and scalp from burning by wearing a broad-brimmed hat. This will offer more protection than a cap, as it also covers your neck, face and ears. Don’t forget your eyes! The skin around your eyes is extremely delicate and sensitive to the sun, so help to protect your peepers by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses
Treating sun damaged skin
There are a number of treatments for sun damaged skin on a variety of levels. First and foremost, you’ll need to focus on drawing out the heat of your sunburn. You can soak your skin with cool water to ease some of the pain, before applying a liberal amount of soothing lotion or after sun. If you notice any swelling, then take painkillers such as paracetamol to help ease the pain and reduce the inflammation. You should ensure that you cover up with long, loose clothing and stay out of the sun until the redness has disappeared.
If you experience feelings of nausea, dizziness, excessive tiredness, loss of appetite or hallucinations then you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. This should be treated as quickly as possible to prevent it leading to heat stroke, which is a much worse condition. Make sure you get plenty of rest in a cool room, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Keep applying cool water to your skin with a damp sponge or a wet flannel.
Continued exposure to the sun can lead to premature ageing, and sun damage. As discussed above, a course of Line & Wrinkle treatment can be an effective way of smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. It works by relaxing the facial muscles to prevent new wrinkles from forming and soften any existing lines. Sun damaged skin can be treated effectively with Skin Peels or a course of Medical Microdermabrasion, which uses medical grade crystals to provide a deep exfoliation, stimulating the production of collagen and encouraging cell renewal, leaving skin looking smoother and younger.
Let us help
Here at The Harley Medical Group, we have been treating sun damaged skin since we began so you can be sure that you’ll receive treatment and advice of the highest standard. If you suffer from sun damaged skin, we encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our trained skincare experts. They’ll use our Computerised Photo Imaging Skin Analysis to determine the best course of action, taking factors such as age and lifestyle into account. They’ll also be on hand to offer you advice and answer any questions you may have about your skin’s condition and appearance.