There is no such thing as a healthy tan, warns expert
The more sun exposure a person has the higher chance of developing skin cancer.
Dubai - While the melanin in the skin is its own natural sunscreen, melanin alone, which gives a person's skin its colour, provides an SPF level of four.
Published: Sat 26 Aug 2017, 7:41 PM
Last updated: Sat 26 Aug 2017, 10:58 PM
Holidaymakers lying down around the beach or pool to get a sun-kissed glow is a common scene during the summer break.
Dermatologists, however, warned against getting exposed to the sunlight for longer periods, as it may ultimately lead to skin cancer.
"There is no such thing as a 'healthy tan'," said Dr Lana Kashlan, consultant dermatologist at CosmeSurge Clinic Marina Dubai. "The act of tanning is a melanin response to damaged skin cells, but healthy tans do come in a bottle - as a self-tanner or airbrush spray tan."
The dangers of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to unprotected skin are at an all-time high for the year. While the melanin in skin is its own natural sunscreen, melanin alone, which gives a person's skin its colour, provides an SPF level of four.
"Certainly, the fairer you are, the more susceptible you are to sunburns and skin cancer," said Kashlan.
However, the invulnerability of darker skin types is a false idea among people, warned Kashlan.
She said: "Just because darker skin types have more melanin in their skin and more protection, it doesn't mean that they can't get skin cancer. In many instances, my darker patients will say 'I don't get sunburns. I don't need sunscreen.' In truth, they absolutely need to protect themselves."
The UAE meteorologists reported that the UV radiation starts increasing in May and reaches its maximum level in July and August.
Get right sun protectionKashlan said protection from the sun is crucial with SPF recommendations of 30 or higher that are broad-spectrum, which means that it blocks UVA and UVB radiation.
While age is a relevant factor for skin cancer, it can also be misleading. Kashlan added that skin cancer develops after chronic accumulation of sun exposure. "The more sun exposure a person has the higher chance of developing skin cancer," she said.
However, there is a particular type of skin cancer called melanoma, which is the type that arises from moles and skin pigment cells. This particular type is more common among young people from the age range of 18 to 35. The fact that a person is young does not mean that they are immune.
Dr Kashlan suggested the use of swimwear and active wear that is designed with UV protection in them.
"Similar to the SPF in sunscreen, they actually have UPF (a UV protective factor). In place of regular swimwear, people can wear swim shirts and cover ups that virtually have sunscreen built into them."
She added: "It's great for kids because it can be really hard to put sunscreen all over a child and re-apply. They are labelled with UPF tags, which indicate how much UV radiation is being blocked."
Using the right sunscreen can protect the skin against harmful rays. However, combining different sunscreens does not lead to more protection, Kashlan clarified.
"You can't rely on combining different SPFs because the SPF is developed based on highly particular studies that are done in the lab.
"The problem with mixing sunscreens is that you don't know how much of each bottle you're getting, so it doesn't really accumulate in effectiveness. You're much better off just getting an SPF that is higher to begin with than to try to make your own combination," she said.Those without any protection, she added, should limit their time in the sun to no more than 10 minutes per day.
As such, precautions like applying sunscreen, wearing wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeve clothing and seeking shade, especially during peak sun intensity hours, are necessary.
Beware of your 'beauty spots'As a precautionary measure, Dr Lana Kashlan suggested people pay attention to the warning signs in the body. "We talk about the 'A, B, C, Ds' of moles or melanoma for self-checking. The 'A' is for 'asymmetry'. Moles should be round and symmetrically even. 'B' is for the 'border' around the mole, which should be even and not jagged. 'C' is for 'colour'. There should only be one consistent colour. 'D' is for 'diameter'. Anything bigger than a pencil eraser or six millimetres is suspicious and worth having evaluated," said Dr Kashlan.
She added that having a mole with any of these characteristics does not necessarily mean the mole is skin cancer, but it does mean that it is worth having a dermatologist take a look.