Sun protection

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

The sunlight is more intense in tropical and subtropical countries, meaning that you can also suffer sunburn when the weather is overcast and when wearing thin clothing or whilst swimming. Sunburn causes the skin to age more quickly and increases the risk of skin cancer.

Children who suffer sunburn have a higher risk of skin cancer later in life.

The fact that the skin turns brown is not a sign of good health, but a sign of sun damage.   

Risk areas

The risk is higher the closer you are to the equator and the higher you are in the mountains. Sand, water and snow amplify the effect of UV radiation.

Prevention

Protect yourself against the sun

Give the skin plenty of time to get used to the more intense sunlight. 

Cover yourself with clothing as much as possible and wear a hat. 

Avoid the full sun between 11:00 and 15:00. 

Protect your eyes with good sunglasses. 

Sessions on a tanning bed before departure will not protect your skin.

Sun cream and lip cream

Use sun cream and lip cream with factor 30 or higher and protection against UV-A and re-apply every 2 hours and after swimming. 

Use enough sun cream: 3 g (1 teaspoon) for the face and neck and 30 g for the whole body. 

Apply sun cream first, allow it to dry and then apply an insect-repellent product. Note, insect-repellent products can reduce the effectiveness of the sun cream. Therefore, you should use a higher factor than normal.

Children

Do not allow children to play in the sun. Babies under the age of six months should never be placed in the sun.

Sun allergy

Some people have a sun allergy to sun. Some medicines can cause a reaction after exposure to sunlight (phototoxic or photo-allergic reactions). Seek advice from the pharmacy if you are taking medication. 

In case of symptoms

Have you become sunburnt despite these measures?

  • Rinse with cold water to soothe the pain.
  • Apply a fatty cream or after-sun cream to the burnt skin. 
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Take paracetamol for the pain if necessary.
  • Seek medical advice if you are severely burnt. A doctor can sometimes recommend a steroid cream.
  • Generalised symptoms could indicate that you have sunstroke or heatstroke.  

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