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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Medicine

Sun protection

  • How can I protect my skin from the sun?
    Whether in summer in Switzerland or in winter under the tropical sun, we should always protect our skin from too much solar radiation. Sunburn is far from harmless, for your skin never forgets!

    Sunlight comprises in part ultraviolet (UV) rays, which stimulate the skin to produce melanin, or skin pigment, and cause the skin to tan. Unfortunately, UV rays also have a harmful effect on the skin, which can result in skin cancer. A melanoma - or black tumour - is particularly dangerous, for it spreads quickly throughout the body and frequently leads to death.

    Sunburn is an indication that the skin is severely inflamed as a result of exposure to UV rays. As soon as the skin becomes red, the maximum UV dose that can be absorbed by the body has already been exceeded and individual skin cells have been damaged. The more frequently a person suffers from sunburn, the greater the risk that he or she will contract skin cancer. It is therefore best to avoid getting sunburnt in the first place!

    People with fair skin are generally at greater risk of getting sunburnt. This also applies to children, as their skin is not yet able to produce sufficient pigment to provide natural UV protection. Consequently, children must always be particularly well protected from the sun's harmful rays.

    The best form of protection is shade. You should avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight particularly between the hours of 11.00 am and 3.00 pm, when radiation is at its strongest. People who cannot or do not want to stay indoors at midday should remain in the shade of the trees or under sunshades. Clothes, too, offer effective protection and should cover as much skin as possible. The head, face and neck are best covered by a sun hat. Fabrics that that have been treated with a UV filter are also recommended. Good sun protection includes sunglasses with a UV filter, as bright sunlight and UV radiation can also damage the eyes.

    Exposed skin is best protected with a good-quality sunscreen. This should be generously applied before you expose your skin to the sun. When buying sunscreen, check out the sun protection factor (SPF); recommended are products with at least a medium (SPF 15-25) or - better - high sun protection factor (SPF 30 or more). People going on a beach holiday should choose water-resistant products and always reapply sunscreen after coming out of the water. Hikers, skiers and tropical tourists need to apply sunscreen at least to the face and neck, and if necessary to the arms and legs. It goes without saying that good quality sunscreen always belongs in your baggage when travelling to a hot country, particularly as in tropical lands good products are not always available. Products whose use-by date has expired (for example, the previous summer) should be discarded as full protection is no longer guaranteed.


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