There is no such thing as a safe tan

Travel Talk

40,000 people are diagnosed each year with skin cancer leading to 2000 deaths and the rate is set to double in ten years. Within this time, experts fear that the incidence of the disease could outstrip lung and bowel cancer to become the biggest cancer killer in Britain.

The main culprit of skin cancer is invariably too much exposure to ultra-violet radiation emitted by the sun. The UV radiation responsible for burning the skin can be divided into UVA and UVB rays. What’s the difference between them? A simple way to remember their effects on the skin is A for ageing and B for burning.

skin cancer UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis layer and repeated exposure causes long term effects which show as premature ageing (lines, wrinkles, age spots). Like B rays, UVA can also burn but much higher doses are needed and tanning occurs first. UVA are the main components of sunbed radiation.

UVB rays are absorbed into the upper layer of the skin and have the greatest tendency to produce sunburn. These rays are also emitted by sun lamps. Too much causes sunburn, freckles and skin thickening and a leathery appearance. UVB rays can lead to skin cancer.

Sunscreens work by reducing the amount of ultra-violet radiation that reaches the skin. There are three types of sunscreen available. The first is a mineral based physical sunscreen which reflects the UV rays away from the skin- such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. The second is a chemical sunscreen which protects the skin by absorbing UV rays. The third is a combination of the first two.

Chemical sunscreens can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin

All suntan preparations carry a S.P.F. number. S.P.F. stands for sun protection factor and is a measure of the sunscreens ability to protect against UVB. The higher the S.P.F. number then the more effective the product is at preventing the sun’s rays from reaching the skin and so the time you can spend in the sun increases.

Beware the sun's effect on the skin A S.P.F. value of 5 means that it takes 5 times as long for the skin to burn compared to the time if you were wearing no protection at all. If you bum normally after ten minutes of sun exposure then a S.P.F. of 5 will allow you 50 minutes protection. The sun’s effect on the skin accumulates over time. And once you reach the end of the suntan’s protected time then the skin will bum. So with the above example, an application of factor 5 will give 50 minutes protection. A second application at the end of this time will not allow longer time in the sun – you will burn!

Manufacturers are also beginning to use a star rating system which measures the protection against UVA radiation. Four stars indicates moderate to maximum protection.

The terms water-resistant and water-proof are interesting. Water-proof means no loss of S.P.F. value after 80 minutes and water-resistant no loss after only 40 minutes.

247 people found this helpful
17466

Share Article:

Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Mark Nicholls visits Austria’s snowiest ski resort and stumbles across a chapter of pop history….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.