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DERMATOPATHOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

DR. PABLO UMBERT

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PHOTOPROTECTION

Solar radiation is a source of life on Earth, but today´s uncontrollable exposure to the sun poses an environmental risk to health, by its possible harmful effects on our skin. Sunburn, photo sensitivity, photo dermatosis, immune suppression, aging ,carcinogenesis are some of the most important adverse effects produced by solar radiation. In a broad sense you can say that exogenous photo protection includes all those methods and strategies that the subject makes to diminish the adverse effects of solar radiation on the skin. These include avoid exposure to the sun, always look for shade, use hats and protect skin with clothes, apply photo protectors (sunscreen).

What does Photoprotection/Sunscreen consist of?

Sunscreens are chemical substances that if applied on the skin, protect to some extent (not entirely avoiding) the harmful action of sun rays.

They do not protect 100% from the damage of sun rays sometimes giving us a sense of false security. This is why other sun protection measures must be taken such as the ones previously mentioned. There are many different types of sunscreens on the market such as creams, lotions, gels, sprays, lip balms and makeup that will allow us to find the right one for our skin type.

How does Sunscreen work?

It acts by the:

  • Absorption and filtration of UV radiation on the surface of the stratum corneum to prevent its penetration into the epidermis and the dermis.
  • Dispersion of radiation.
  • Reflection through the application of substances «barrier».
  • Inactivation or destruction of free radicals produced on the exposed skin.

What types of Sunscreen are there?

There are two types:

  • Chemical or Organic Sunscreens: Are substances applied on the skin that absorb photons from sunlight, through photochemical reactions, and modify them so that it does not harm the skin. Need about 30 minutes to take effect, so it must be applied 30 minutes before exposure to sun.
  • Physical Filters, Inorganic, or Total Screen: Applied on the skin to reflect sunlight (do not absorb radiation). They have less risk of producing allergy but they are less cosmetically appealing. They are particularly suitable for children.

How to use:

  • Apply it generously and evenly on a perfectly clean and dry skin without any perfume.
  • Use sunscreens that protect from both UVA and UVB.
  • Use chemical or physical factors, although physical factors have a higher degree of protection, but are less cosmetically pleasant. Chemical filters must be applied on the skin 30 minutes before sun exposure. Physical filters can be applied immediately before exposure.
  • The index or protection factor indicates how much time it takes for the skin to burn when exposed to the sun. So, the higher the factor, the longer it will protect from the sun. The minimum recommended protection is 15. If photo type is low (light skin) we recommend using a 20 or 30 factor for people with fair skin who tan poorly and burn easily, and 40 to 60, for people with fair skin that never tan. The application of a 40 to 60 factor is a must for those people with certain diseases aggravated by the sun (photoallergies, lupus erythematosus, xerodermapigmentoso, albinism, vitiligo, etc).
  • Sunscreen should always be applied when activities are carried out at high altitudes, such as skiing or mountaineering.
  • Creams, lotions, gels, and sprays can be used. Always choose products that are suited to your skin type.
  • Sunscreens should be reapplied every 30-60 minutes, if exposure continues, or even more frequently if there is significant sweating or if exercise is performed.
  • Reapply sunscreen after swimming or bathing. Water poses no barrier to most of the UV radiation. It is therefore important to use water-resistant protector.
  • Should also be used on cloudy days when the UV index is greater than 5
  • The lips should be protected with pencils or photo protective bars.

Doctor Pablo Umbert y Doctora Olivé

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