Be sun safe!


Be sun safe!

The cold weather is fading away, as the fog dissolves to make way for the sun’s harsh rays. It’s about to get hotter and hotter from now on, so we had better brace ourselves for the summer. The first task on your list must be to pick up a good sunscreen lotion and start applying it on all exposed body parts before you step out.

Indian skin is more prone to tanning. And sunscreen products, if used adequately and correctly, can protect you from the harmful ultraviolet rays and slow down skin ageing.

Finger-tip unit (approximately half a gram) is now a standard measure of the required quantity of sunscreen lotion or cream. Your face requires 2 FTU while your arms require 3 FTU. Over your trunk, you need to apply 6 FTU of sunscreen.

Sunscreens are of two types: physical and chemical. Most products in the market today carry a combination of both. These products work best when applied at least 20 minutes before exposure to sun. If you’re going to be out for long, you will require repeated applications every couple of hours for optimum efficacy.

Sun protection factor or SPF is a parameter used to show a product’s efficacy for protection against UVB (and not UVA) rays. SPF 30 provides 96.7% protection which is sufficient for regular use. SPF that is higher than 30 is not that much better as 100% protection is not possible with any sunscreen. Boot star rating is used for UVA protection, and more than three stars means the product is good.

UVB rays cause sunburns, while UVA rays causes skin ageing. Tanning is caused by both. Ninety per cent of UV rays pass through clouds as well. Thus sunscreens are required even during rainy/cloudy weather.

Medicated sunscreen offers better protection than cosmetic ones. Your dermatologist can help you choose the right one.

(The author is professor & head, Department of Dermatology, K J Somaiya Medical College, Mumbai)

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