Protecting yourself from too much UV radiation is the most important way to prevent skin cancer. Children are more sensitive than adults and therefore need special protection against intense sunlight and sunburn.
Protecting yourself effectively from the sun means avoiding too much UVA and UVB radiation. The sun is particularly intense in the summer between 11 and 15 o’clock. Who wants to limit the contact with UV radiation, can
- Avoid direct sun during the summer during the summer,
- Seeking shade, especially during lunchtime,
- protect yourself from the sun with umbrella, hat and clothes,
- wearing sunglasses with UV protection lenses,
- Use sunscreen with UV-A and UV-B protection and a high sun protection factor as well
do without sunbeds and UV lamps.
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Practical information for parents who can help protect children from the sun can be found in our flyer: Children and Sun.
How much protection do shade and clothing provide?
Shadow is the best sunscreen. It can reduce UV radiation by 50 to 95%. However, not every shadow protects the same. Thick foliage of trees or shrubs lends itself well and holds more sun than many beach umbrellas. If no shady place to find, you can dress accordingly. Wide brimmed hats are a good match. A sun or umbrella can be an extra protection for babies.
Clothing protects well when it is dark, tightly woven or dense and unbleached. Materials such as polyester, but also jeans and wool keep more UV light than thin cotton fabrics, linen, silk or viscose.
In addition, there are clothes with special UV protection. How good the protection is depends critically on how it is made. Some textiles lose much of their protection when they are wet or washed.
The most reliable statement about the sun protection factor of textiles is provided by the “UV Standard 801”. This procedure also checks the garment being used and specifies its UV protection as Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The UPF according to UV standard 801 states how much longer the user can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. Dense cotton clothing has a UPF of about 20.
What can you expect from sunscreen?
Sunscreens such as sunscreen or spray can prevent sunburn, considering how long they work. This makes them valuable because sunburn hurts, damages the skin and is associated with an increased skin cancer risk.
However, the question of whether sunscreen directly protects against skin cancer is not so easy to answer. Studies suggest that people less likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma when applying cream. The fact that sunscreens prevent the more dangerous melanoma and the more common basal cell carcinoma, has not yet been proven.
Most studies on the subject neglect important influencing factors such as the skin type of the participants. In other studies, participants were asked afterwards how often they had creamed themselves. It is hardly possible to remember exactly how often and well you creamed yourself years or decades ago.
Most studies also used older products that did not have a UVA filter and a comparatively low sun protection factor (SPF). Modern creams with higher SPF and UV-A filters have been less investigated.
Despite many unanswered questions, sunscreen is an important additional aid. There are situations – such as walking, swimming or surfing – where there is no shade or clothing alone is not enough. Even when bathing or water sports one is particularly exposed to the sun, because water reflects the UV rays. The rays can also penetrate up to a meter deep in water. Parents also find sunscreen for lively children often more practical than other protective measures: children do not always stay in the shade and also clothes are often taken off.
However, relying solely on sunscreen has one major disadvantage:
The sunscreen can not be checked well. It is easy to overlook that the cream has not been applied thick enough in places or that it has worn off. In addition, their use may result in more ineffective sunscreen measures being neglected.
Which UV filters are there?
Most sunscreens contain several chemical UV filters and additional physical filters. Which UV filters are allowed differs from country to country.
Chemical filters are substances that penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays. Mostly different chemical UV filters are combined to cover a wider range of radiation. Physical filters contain particles (mineral pigments) that shield the skin from UV rays. The most commonly used particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. A sunscreen based on mineral pigments is considered to be kinder to the skin than products with chemical filters. However, the mineral pigment filter of some sunscreens leaves a white layer on the skin, which can be distracting.
Face creams and make-up may also contain UV filters. However, the information on the LSF is often so inaccurate that you can not rely on the protection.
How do I cream properly?
Creaming sounds easy at first. However, many people do not use light stabilizers properly or are unsure when, in what quantity and how often the sunscreen should be applied. It is also important to choose a cream whose sun protection factor fits the skin type and provides sufficient protection.
Sunscreen can only work if you use plenty of it. One 200 ml bottle of sunscreen will last for one adult for about six full-body applications.
When applying cream, it is important that every patch of skin exposed to the sun is taken into account. Body parts such as ears and feet are easily forgotten. Some also find it difficult to ask for help, for example, for the back.
The cream is removed by bathing, drying or heavy sweating and then can not protect enough. Even “waterproof” sunscreens are not one hundred percent water and abrasion resistant. Therefore it makes sense to apply sunscreen more often – about every two hours. Here sometimes helps a small reminder, for example, via a smartphone. The indicated maximum protection time of the sun cream, however, can not be prolonged by repeated creaming.
It is also important to use sunscreen in time and not only when you have been in the sun for a while. Most sunscreens work immediately after application. Individual products only have to work for 20 to 30 minutes before they provide protection.