The Harley Medical Group

Sun Protection Guide For Sports People and Outdoor Workers

We all enjoy going out in the sun every now and again – after all, that extra dose of vitamin D is good for you, right?  However for those who spend a lot of time outdoors exposed to the sun there is a high risk of developing sun damage.  In the best of cases this can cause sun spots or moles to form on your skin, and you may be left with sunburn which is painful, itchy and can lead to premature ageing.  In the worst of cases excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer.  That’s why it is vital to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays each time you go outside, and especially if you’re outside often.

We’ve written this guide to sun protection for sports people and outdoor workers; if this is you then you’ll have to be extra vigilant on a daily basis!  Read on to find out how to protect your skin and how you can treat any sun damage you may sustain.

Who is most at risk?

Anyone who spends a lot of time outside for work or for practising sports is at risk of developing sun damage.  You may be a farmer, construction worker or gardener – or perhaps you’re training to compete in a marathon or triathlon – whatever your reason for being outdoors it is important that you pay attention to skin care and sun protection.  Take extra care if you have one or more of the following:

Fair skin or lots of freckles (you probably burn easily or don’t tan at all)
Fair or red hair and light coloured eyes (you’re likely to have skin that is more sensitive to the sun)
A large amount of moles (check them regularly for signs of blistering, weeping or a change in size or colour)

Sun damage prevention tips

So now you know who is most at risk and what some of these risks are, here are some tips to help prevent you from sustaining sun damage:

  • Apply sun cream regularly

You should pay attention to the SPF (sun protection factor) on the side of your bottle of sun cream.  The fairer the skin you have, and the more easily you burn, the higher the SPF you should choose.  You’ll no doubt be aware of the importance of applying sun cream regularly, but how many of you can say with certainty that you do so?  Some people do not realise just how much sun cream they should apply – as a general rule of thumb you should use enough sun cream to fill a shot glass.  Be sure to apply it around 15 minutes before your workout, or before you leave for work, and reapply it once an hour if you’re working up a sweat.  You don’t need to worry about lugging around a huge bottle of sun cream either – instead, buy a handy travel size bottle and keep it in your shorts where it’s in easy reach.  Don’t forget to apply sun cream to your ears and the back of your neck, as many people miss these areas.

  • Kit yourself out with the right clothes

There is a large variety of sports clothing which boasts easy sweat removal for those practising sports - this won’t have a protective action against the sun though.  The good news is that many sports clothing manufacturers are adding sun-protection ability to shorts and t-shirts – look out for labels with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) seal; this means that the fabric will be able to block both UVA and UVB rays, giving you extra protection during a workout or long training session.

If you’re an outdoor worker then the best type of clothing you can wear is a pair of long trousers and a long sleeved shirt – try to choose one with a collar to protect the back of your neck further.

  • Make sure you stay hydrated

Working or training outside in the sun can cause you to sweat, which removes water from your body.  It is therefore really important that you top those depleted water levels back up again by regularly drinking water.  Dehydration can not only cause painful headaches and dizziness but can also be fatal in some cases, so always keep a bottle of water handy.

  • Work in a shady spot

You should make sure to avoid being directly exposed to sunlight during the hottest part of the day.  Try to work or train in a shaded area during the hours of 10am and 4pm and make sure that you always wear a hat to protect your face and neck from the sun’s rays.  You can get your hands on a broad-brimmed hat, or one with a neck flap to protect your neck – you can even adapt hard hats for work in the sun, so there really is no excuse to not stay protected!

  • Use water-resistant sun cream

You may think that water-resistant sun cream is only for those intending to be in and out of the swimming pool all day but that is not the case.  Depending on the chemicals and substances you work with, it’s a good idea to use sun cream that is water-resistant as it will help to protect your skin should you come into frequent contact with the likes of asphalt and diphenyls, which increase the harm caused by ultraviolet radiation.

You should also be cautious if you work or train in areas where there is water, concrete, sand or snow, as ultraviolet radiation bounces off these surfaces, which increases the likelihood of you sustaining sun damage. In these cases you may also want to consider UV sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Possible treatment options

Despite your best intentions, it may be that the damage has already been done – you’ll be pleased to know however that there are a few possible solutions to help treat sun damaged skin.

  • Isolaz Laser Treatment

Also known as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), Isolaz uses light based technology to help rejuvenate skin affected by a range of problems, including sun damage, uneven pigmentation, redness, brown spots, and freckles to name a few.

This FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) approved treatment is virtually painless and gently suctions the skin to help encourage the unwanted brown or red pigment to the surface, where it is destroyed, leaving your skin looking refreshed and more youthful.

The treatment generally takes around 45 minutes and requires no down-time so you can resume your sporting activities or work straightaway.  We recommend that you book a course of five treatments for optimum results.

  • Dermaroller

If the idea of natural skin regeneration appeals to you then you may be interested in Dermaroller Therapy.  This treatment uses thousands of micro needles to encourage your skin cells to regenerate naturally and repair to help improve the appearance of aged or sun damaged skin and leaves you with a healthier, younger-looking complexion.

It can take up to six weeks after treatment for you to notice a difference in the condition of your skin, and you will find that it looks as though you have moderate sunburn for a day afterwards.  Following treatment, we will apply a strong UVA/UVB sun cream of SPF 50, and recommend that you continue to use this cream to soothe your skin.

  • Agera Skin Peels

If your skin suffers from long-standing sun damage then our Agera Skin Peels can help.  This non-irritating, painless treatment works deep within your skin to encourage cell renewal by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.  Skin Peels are available in four different strengths depending on your skin type – your Cosmetic Surgery Nurse will recommend the best Skin Peel for you during your free consultation, which will include a complimentary Computerised Photo Imaging Skin Analysis.

The treatment takes around 30 minutes in total and requires no downtime, which means you can resume your training and work straightaway.  The Harley Medical Group recommends a course of six Skin Peels, with one administered every two weeks, for optimum results.

Let us help

The Harley Medical Group has years of experience in the Cosmetic Surgery and Laser & Skin Treatments sector, so if you’re worried about how the sun has damaged your skin during your sports training or as a result of working outdoors, then simply contact us to book your free consultation – one of our qualified Cosmetic Surgery Nurses will advise you on the best course of treatment for your skin type.

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