Sunscreen: "The skin does not forget anything"

Good sunscreen is essential. (Symbol: CC0)

Clothing, shade, sunscreen: The good sunscreen is not so difficult, but too often neglected. "When the sun is so beautiful, people forget the risks," says Privatdozent Dr. med. Hans-Joachim Schulze, Chief Medical Officer of the Hornheide Specialist Clinic, on the occasion of the 21st sunscreen day. Ultraviolet radiation is the main factor in the development of skin cancer, with around 270 000 new cases a year, the most common cancer in Germany.

Who wants to enjoy the sun without worries, must not only know the main sun protection rules, but also apply them. Schulze recommends in particular reflective and colored clothing to avoid direct sunlight. White clothes, on the other hand, absorb the sun's rays and are therefore less suitable for protection. "In any case, clothing is the first choice in sun protection, and of course it also includes sun hats," said Schulze, chief dermatology doctor at Hornheide and head of the Münster Skin Cancer Center and Oncology Center of the Munster Alliance Against Cancer (MagKs).

Dr. Hans-Joachim Schulze, Chief Medical Officer at the Hornheide Specialist Clinic. (Photo: FK Hornheide)
Dr. Hans-Joachim Schulze, Chief Medical Officer at the Hornheide Specialist Clinic. (Photo: FK Hornheide)

Follow only visible years later

Above all, parents should be a good example for their children and take sunscreen seriously for themselves as well as for offspring. "One can avoid 75% of skin tumors if there has been no sunburn before the age of 20," said Schulze. This skin cancer is seen only after years, was also a problem in education. "In spirit, the danger is far away," says Schulze. This may also explain the relative reluctance of Germans to take precautionary measures: According to the TK Skin Cancer Report, between 2015 and 2017, only a legally insured person in Germany had been screened.

According to Mr Schulze, sunscreen is also part of the beneficial effects of the sun – in the right places and in sufficient quantities. In addition, the cream should be applied about 30 minutes before staying in the sun. The SPF must also be based on the individual skin type. Hans-Joachim Schulze points out that even though tanning protects against UV rays, it also signals that the skin has already been injured by harmful UV rays: the skin reacts to brown pigmentation. be better protected during subsequent exposure to UV. "It's a bit like if the alarm siren was screaming when the thief is already in the house," says Schulze. In any case, it is important to avoid intense exposure to the sun, resulting in severe browning.

10 tips and information to enjoy the summer and the sun without worries:

  • Avoid all sunburns: "The skin does not forget anything," says Privatdozent Dr. med. Hans-Joachim Schulze of the Hornheide Specialist Clinic. Therefore, even a single sunburn greatly increases the risk of skin cancer. Incidentally, the part of the body that is affected makes no difference.
  • Clothes are the best sunscreen: Particularly colorful clothes effectively protect against sunburn. Long, ventilated clothing and hats should be the first choice for sun protection.
  • Avoid the midday sun: between 11h and 15h, the sun is the most intense. Aspects such as latitude, altitude, temperature, and season influence the strength of UV radiation. This is especially important for holidays in the south.
  • Do not use sunscreen the previous year: "Sunscreen flasks already open should no longer be used after the expiry date". The background corresponds to the decrease in the concentration of active ingredient of the UV protection agent.
  • Also protect in the shade of clothes and sunscreen: water, sand or light walls are reflective surfaces for the sun.
  • Generously use sunscreen, especially "solar terraces" such as ears, nose, shoulders, neck and back of the foot to create a generous cream.
  • Use a sunscreen that provides protection from UVA and UVB rays: rays penetrate the skin at different depths, but can be responsible for sunburn. "Basically, the sun's rays do not hurt, of course, that's the problem when it comes to risk assessment."
  • Apply sunscreen half an hour before sunbathing.
    Use the highest possible SPF, sensitive skin at least SPF 30.
    To enjoy the sun "healthy" is allowed: Hans-Joachim Schulze: "Like chocolate, the sun is a plus, it provides, for example, vitamin D and is also valuable for our psyche."