As the height of summer comes upon us and we head overseas for our dose of summer sun, I still hear stories about people getting nasty sunburn and this takes me back to my holiday repping days and I was asked this question all the time “How did I get sunburnt? I’ve been applying my suncream every hour”.
Well the simple answer is they were either using a suncream with insufficient SPF or not using it enough.
I’d see fairly regularly people arriving from the UK in August. It’s 42 degrees, the UV Index is high in the destination and people with lily white skin would take their sunbeds and apply suncream and reapply regularly throughout the day. Come 6pm they are howling in agony, skin’s blistered and they can’t understand why they have burnt and threat’s to sue said maker of suncream for a defective product. I’d ask to see the suncream and it’s a factor 8 Suncream – EIGHT!!
SPF was introduced in 1962 as a universal way of measuring suncream’s protection against UVA and UVB rays, and ranges from SPF 2 all the way through to 70. It works by blocking the skin against these harmful rays that causes burning and skin ageing. But it only works for so long, so how does it work?
Let’s go back to Ms Lily White with the Factor 8. Without suncream her skin will start to burn in 15 minutes. By using a factor 8, she is giving her skin a sun exposure time of 2 hours (8 x 15 mins = 120 mins). Once 2 hours is up she will start to burn. Every minute from 2 hours onwards her skin is burning. If she’s been in the sun for 6 hours then she’s had 4 hours of burning in the sun.
The other scenario is not using enough. How much suncream should an adult use in an application? An adult should be applying around 3 tablespoons of suncream to cover their body, which is about 1/6 of a 200ml bottle and should be applied every two hours or after being in water. That’s 8 bottles of Suncream per adult, that sure to make a dent in the baggage allowance.
Suncream usage will vary vary from person to person, to time of day to destination so make sure you follow local advice and recommendations.
If in the event you do get mild sunburn then a cold shower and an aloe vera aftersun (make sure Aloe Vera is the first ingredient on the ingredients section) will help rejuvenate your skin.
Common misconceptions are:-
-Have a hot shower to take the sting out. Sunburn is a burn to your skin. If you burnt your hand on the iron you wouldn’t run it under the hot water tap.
-Greek Yoghurt – there is no scientific studies that corroborates the conception that yoghurt will soothe your sunburn.
-Use Suncream at Night – Unless it contains Zinc Oxide, a known anti-inflammatory, using suncream at night will do nothing other than act as a moisturiser.
-Apply Ice to sunburn – Never apply ice to a sunburned area as this can delay healing by causing the blood vessels under the skin to constrict and reduce blood flow.
If you get a severe sunburn then seek immediate medical advice.
Going on holiday is a fun time, so make sure you use adequate SPF protection, apply regularly, and take shade in the sun’s strongest hours and you will be fine.