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Sunday August 7, 2011

Sunny protection
Too much sun can e harm!u"# So e a$are o! ho$ you can protect yourse"!#
WE live in a country where we do not think much about the sun shining on our faces !t is sim"ly there,
"roviding light and heat to us, #$% days a year
&owever, as we become more conscious of the effects of '( rays on our skin and health, we have learnt to
be more careful with sun e)"osure *any women now carry an umbrella when they walk in the sun, wear
hats while gardening, and "ut on sunscreen lotion when they go out of the house
The hi%hest amount o! &' ra(iation is emitte( et$een )*am an( +pm in the
(ay, so try to a-oi( spen(in% "ots o! time un(er the sun (urin% those hours# .
+hoosing the right sunscreen can be confusing ,he shelves of "harmacies and su"ermarkets are often filled
with rows and rows of sunscreen "roducts with di--ying variations of names, numbers and claims
What is the right sunscreen for you, and how much does it hel" you. What else do you need besides
sunscreen to "rotect yourself. ! ho"e to answer some of these /uestions below
&' (an%ers
Sunlight contains ultraviolet 0'(1 rays, which is "art of the electromagnetic s"ectrum emitted from the sun
2ou cannot actually see '( rays with the naked eye, as its wavelengths are shorter than that of visible light
,here are three ranges of '( rays within this s"ectrum3 '(A, '(4, and '(+ ,he first two wave ranges,
'(A and '(4, are the ones that "enetrate the atmos"here and reach our skin
'(A rays are long5wave rays that "enetrate dee"ly into the skin, while '(4 are short5wave rays that only
enter the skin6s su"erficial e"idermal layers
'( rays do have beneficial effects because they hel" the body to make vitamin 7, which is im"ortant for
strong bones and teeth Sunlight is the only known natural source of vitamin 7, so we cannot shun the sun
&owever, too much e)"osure to '(A and '(4 rays can lead to harm '(A is known to damage the 78A in
skin cells, which could contribute to skin cancer and su""ression of the immune system '(A also causes
skin wrinkling, "remature ageing, age s"ots, and loss of tone and elasticity
'(4 is the main cause of skin reddening and sunburns when you are e)"osed to sun '(4 is also a cul"rit
in skin cancers
,ogether, overe)"osure to '(A and '(4 can significantly increase your risk of develo"ing different ty"es of
skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, s/uamous cell carcinoma and melanoma
Ho$ (oes sunscreen $or/0
,echnically, sunscreen is any substance or material that "rotects the skin from '( rays !t does not
necessarily have to be in the form of skin lotion, cream, gel or s"ray9 it can also be a salve or stick that is
a""lied to the li"s, nose or eyelids9 sunglasses9 sun5"rotection clothing9 or a film screen that we affi) to our
house or car windows
!n this article, we will talk about the effectiveness of sunscreen skin "roducts, because these "roducts offer
the most "rotection for "arts of our bodies that are not covered by clothing or coverings
,he amount of "rotection "rovided by a sunscreen is indicated by the sun5"rotection factor, or S:; 2ou will
usually see sunscreen lotions with numbers like S:; 1%, #0, or %0 ,he S:; is calculated based on how long
it takes for skin that has been treated with sunscreen to burn, com"ared with skin that hasn6t been treated
with sunscreen
As a rule of thumb, the higher the S:; number, the better the sun "rotection &owever, it does not mean that
you always have to use S:; $0 because you think it gives you double "rotection com"ared to S:; #0
7octors and e)"erts usually recommend that as long as you use S:; #0 or higher, you will get sufficient
8ot all sunscreen lotions deflect both '(A and '(49 some only "rotect against '(4 ,o ensure that you are
getting "rotection from both '(A and '(4, look for the words <broad5s"ectrum= or <full5s"ectrum= when
"urchasing sunscreen "roducts
According to the American Academy of 7ermatology, you should look for certain ingredients in sunscreens to
ensure broad5s"ectrum "rotection ,he ingredients are avoben-one, cino)ate, ecamsule, menthyl
anthranilate, octyl metho)ycinnamate, octyl salicylate, o)yben-one and sulisoben-one
Sunscreens containing -inc o)ide and titanium dio)ide are also considered to be safe and effective as
neither of these two ingredients "enetrate the skin
&sin% sunscreen correct"y
Sunscreen has to be a""lied correctly in order to get the ma)imum "rotection against '( radiation ,his
might sound like common sense, but you would be sur"rised to learn that many "eo"le do not use sunscreen
A common mistake is a""lying too little sunscreen A tiny dollo" will not be enough > be generous9 you need
about five to si) teas"oons of sunscreen to cover the entire body
Slather the sunscreen generously on all body areas that will be e)"osed to sun, es"ecially your face, ears,
hands, arms, li"s and head 0if don6t intend to wear a hat1, and rub it in generously 2our skin should be dry
and you should a""ly it #0 minutes before you go outdoors
Sweating, bathing, swimming and drying with a towel can cause sunscreen to wear off, so you have to
rea""ly it at least every two hours or more fre/uently Even water5 and "ers"iration5resistant sunscreen
cannot offer indefinite "rotection
+hildren above the age of si) months can already start using sunscreen, and some brands offer child5friendly
"roducts with colourful "ackaging that make it fun and easy for kids to a""ly sunscreen on themselves
;or children below si) months, it is best to kee" them in the shade with the a""ro"riate clothing
Other $ays to protect yourse"!
Sunscreen lotions are not the be5all and end5all in sun "rotection, as they are only one as"ect of the big
2ou may forget to "ut on sunscreen, or may not be using enough ,hat is why sun "rotection should also
include avoiding the sun during "eak hours, and wearing "rotective clothing
,he highest amount of '( radiation is emitted between 10am and ?"m in the day, so try to avoid s"ending
lots of time under the sun during those hours @emember that the '( rays can "enetrate your skin even
through clouds or through windows, so be aware of how much you are being e)"osed to
:rotective clothing is Aust any clothing that covers your skin, including long "ants, long5sleeved shirts,
sunglasses and wide5brimmed hats
!f you s"end a lot of time doing outdoor activities such as golfing, swimming, gardening or walking, you might
want to consider investing in s"ecial sun5"rotective clothing that "revent absor"tion of '( rays
At the end of the day, sun "rotection is about common sense 7on6t overdo it and avoid the sun com"letely,
as sunlight is still im"ortant to generate vitamin 7 Bust remember that too much of anything is bad for you
Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist (FRCOG, UK! For "urther
in"or#ation, $isit %%%!&ri#anora!co#! 'he in"or#ation &ro$i(e( is "or e(ucational an( co##unication
&ur&oses only an( it shoul( not be construe( as &ersonal #e(ical a($ice! )n"or#ation &ublishe( in this
article is not inten(e( to re&lace, su&&lant or aug#ent a consultation %ith a health &ro"essional regar(ing the
rea(er*s o%n #e(ical care! 'he +tar (oes not gi$e any %arranty on accuracy, co#&leteness, "unctionality,
use"ulness or other assurances as to the content a&&earing in this colu#n! 'he +tar (isclai#s all
res&onsibility "or any losses, (a#age to &ro&erty or &ersonal in,ury su""ere( (irectly or in(irectly "ro#
reliance on such in"or#ation!