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With the arrival of summer, outdoor hours multiply and the chances of suffering the harmful effects of harmful ultraviolet rays increase. While enjoying the sun is pleasant and has some benefits - it helps synthesize vitamin D - and promotes mood, prolonged exposure and without adequate protection can be highly harmful .

The most immediate consequence of the damage caused by the king star is the classic burns. But beyond the temporary irritation, the redness and itching caused by these chickens , because sun damage accumulates in the epidermis, it can eventually lead to premature skin deterioration and in the worst cases carcinomas. That is, photo aging occurs.

But what is photoaging?

This term refers to the "acceleration of the natural aging of the skin due to the damage caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation . It causes alteration in DNA and tissues," explains Cristina García-Millán, member of the Spanish Association of Dermatology and Vnerology and doctor in the Pedro Jaén Dermatology group.

However, this damage does not manifest itself immediately, but over the years. "This is why we say that the skin has memory . The damage we have received, for example, at 25 years will be manifested around 45. Normally the period in which the effects of the sun begin to be perceived the skin is 20 years old, "continues the doctor.

The perception of age or other aesthetic issues, such as beauty, are related to the state of the epidermis, which responds largely to exposure to the environment. There are two factors involved in aging. On the one hand, "the intrinsic, also called chrono-aging, which occurs over the years and affects the entire body but on the skin is more visible. It is also an inevitable process, genetically determined , although good care and some treatments (anti-aging creams, etc.) can delay or attenuate these signs of aging, "explains García-Millán.

These changes produced by the progressive progress of the years, can be increased by some external elements such as ultraviolet radiation and tobacco or pollution. "The so-called extrinsic factors, due to daily exposure to various sources such as sunlight or tobacco, increase the production of free radicals and cause DNA damage, decreases the level of collagen and elastin and causes numerous skin lesions" , says the dermatologist. Among these external agents, "the one with the greatest negative effects on the skin is ultraviolet radiation, up to 80% . Tobacco use and pollution, as well as other lifestyle-related variables such as lack of sleep, stress or food also affect, "García-Millán continues.

Among the most frequent and visible changes seen in the skin are the loss of elasticity, firmness and sagging , yellowish skin , irregular tone (depigmentation), early development of deep wrinkles , sunspots (lentigines), dry skin and premalignant lesions (actinic keratosis), which can lead to carcinomas in the long term.

"Dermatologists usually recommend annual reviews. Some skin changes are caused by age, but others respond to the effects of the sun. If the visit to the clinic is done every year, premalignant lesions can be detected, which require little intervention. While if time goes by, these injuries can lead to certain types of foot cancer, "recalls the doctor.

It is true that the biological process of aging cannot be stopped, but that which is produced by external factors can be prevented. To avoid them, you can follow some practical tips.

1.- PROTECT YOURSELF ALL YEAR. The use of photoprotectors at any time of the year is the best antidote to prevent premature aging. As ultraviolet radiation is more potent in summer and outdoor time is much longer, precautions should be taken during this season. However, the effects of the sun act on the skin 365 days a year even though the weather is bad or the day is cloudy.

"We recommend using photoprotection daily , regardless of whether it is winter, spring, summer or autumn. Nor is it necessary to always apply a sun protection factor 50, it will depend on the latitude in which we are, the time of the year, the lifestyle , etc. But its use is essential, "says the expert.

In addition, in the case of children , whose skin is more fragile and thin, the effect of a burn can have serious consequences on their adult life. "A good part of the carcinomas that we see in the consultations are caused by burns during childhood. Therefore it is convenient to use a protection not less than 50", says García-Millán. People with sensitive, allergic skin, with marks or a low phototype are also more vulnerable to sunlight.

2.- APPLY THE PHOTOPROTECTOR GENEROSELY AND RENEW IT. One of the most common mistakes is to apply an insufficient amount of this type of lotions. The dermatologist affects that for an adult it is necessary to use between 25 and 30 ml (like a shot glass) for the whole body. Studies on sunscreens are made based on a suggested measure. Using less product may decrease the effect and cause burns.

"No product with these characteristics offers absolute protection. You should not extend the hours of sunshine thinking that as we have already applied the photoprotector nothing will happen to us. We must replace it every two hours, after the bath or after an activity that we have made sweat, "Garcia-Millán warns.

It is also very common to assume that if the protection factor is high it is not necessary to reapply it. Nothing further. "A factor 50 offers a greater ability to defend the skin before a person can get burned, but it is not infallible. The cream must be renewed regardless of the protective factor ," he clarifies.

3.- CARE WITH THE MOST EXPOSED AREAS. The face, the neckline, the shoulders or the back of the neck, although not usually forgotten at the time of applying the sunscreen, are areas of the skin that show greater exposure to the sun and, therefore, more prone to burn and suffer photo aging. Special care requires the tip of the nose , since sweat usually drags the cream, leaving it without coverage before the rays of the star king.

The scalp - mainly in heads devoid of hair or with very marked stripes - as well as the ears, lips, eyelids are other parts of the body with a high risk of burns and, in many cases, the large ones forgotten when using the sunscreen. Remember the use of photoprotector, along with a cap or hat and sunglasses in many cases will protect these regions that are often neglected.

4.- ORAL PROTECTORS. The effects of the sun can also be prevented from the inside. Oral photoprotection is the perfect complement to topical protection. "Due to its high load of antioxidants and repair agents, the cells suffer less damage during sun exposure. It is highly recommended in people with clear skin and eyes, children, elderly ... who are at greater risk," recommends the doctor.

Of course, although they are an ideal ally to combat sunrays, they are not much less substitutes for creams with protection factor.

5.- THERE IS NO HEALTHY BRONZE. Although it is truly flattering, the truth is that there is no healthy tan. Darkening a couple of shades the skin sunbathing is nothing more than "a defense mechanism, it is the obvious sign of damage to the foot , which acts against the effects of ultraviolet rays," emphasizes the dermatologist.

The burn is easy to avoid with a good sun protection factor, "but the skin also receives that damage, increasing the chances of premature aging, although not as quickly as if sunscreen is not used. In the end it is not do crazy things. If you want to tan at least you must use a protective factor, renew it, do not expose yourself at certain times ... Always with caution, "García-Millán recommends.

6.- AVOID THE CENTRAL HOURS OF THE DAY. Ultraviolet radiation reaches its peak between 12 in the morning and four in the afternoon. During that time the sun rays are stronger and more harmful and should not be exposed.

7.- NOT ONLY ON THE BEACH. There are many people who only use sunscreen when they go to the beach or the pool. García-Millán emphasizes that there are other scenarios in which the sun can be very harmful and we are not usually aware: "It is very risky to do tourism in a city without using a photoprotector, for example. People who navigate should also take care of themselves, the breeze and humidity descend the sensation of heat and the damage that is being received on the skin is not perceived. In addition, the ship's hull is usually white and reflects the light. " And he adds that, in general, in any activity carried out outdoors, the skin must be protected from ultraviolet rays, regardless of skin tone.

Also, media such as snow, water or sand project the sun's rays and increase their harmful effects on the skin. To be truly protected, it is essential to use sunscreens with high factors.

8.- LOOK FOR THE SHADOW. Staying under the shade is a good photoprotective measure. However, "even under the umbrella, the awning or other thatched roofs, rods, vegetation, etc., sunscreen should be applied. The radiation often crosses the fabrics of the umbrellas, except those that are prepared to protect from lightning. UVB and UVA, and the shadow is moving, so they do not prevent 100% burns.In addition, we must not forget that the sand reflects the light.With regard to the straw roofs or rods there is always some slit by the that the sun is filtered, "he says.

9.- HEALTHY DIET. A healthy and balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, helps maintain the skin's natural defenses. "If our diet is rich in beta-carotene (carrot, pepper, orange, squash, broccoli, spinach ...), lycopene (watermelon, apricot, cranberries and berries, tomato, grapefruit ...) and, in general, foods with antioxidant power, skin cells are more protected, "says the dermatologist.

10.- AFTER THE SUN. To mitigate the effect of the sun, the first thing to apply is an after sun type lotion , which has a restorative composition that gradually recovers the skin. In addition, it moisturizes and refreshes. On the other hand, certain anti - aging products - with vitamin C and E, retinoles, alpha hydroxy acid, hyaluronic acid ... - help to revert to some extent the signs of aging. However, García-Millán insists: "the best anti-aging is sunscreen."

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