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Protect your skin well from the sun if you are going to play sports

Women and sports today: growth statistics - Iberdrola

Solar radiation without adequate protection can be very harmful to our health. Especially ultraviolet rays can cause burns, premature skin aging, weakening of the immune system and even lead to skin cancer. For this reason, although the sun also has beneficial effects such as helping the production of vitamin D, dermatology experts never tire of repeating the importance of adequate protection.

When we consciously go to the beach or expose ourselves to the sun, we are very clear about this need for protection. However, there are other activities in which we are also exposed and in which we are not so aware of this need, such as practicing outdoor sports.

“Several studies, carried out by dermatologists at the Puerta del Mar University Hospital in Cádiz and members of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, show that there is still little awareness of the damage that the athlete's skin can suffer from this sun exposure,” explains Teresa. Bonnin, community pharmacist, member of the Dermatology group of the Spanish Society of Family and Community Pharmacy (SEFAC).

Bonnin points out that, for example, one of these studies carried out with sailors found that their average training is between three and four hours a day. “More than 70 percent of them suffered sunburns and yet more than 88 percent had never seen a dermatologist in their lives.” Another study, this time done with surfers, provided similar data. On this occasion up to 70 percent had been burned while 83 percent never went to the dermatologist.

A very innovative field

The main tool we have to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of the sun when we are doing any outdoor sport are photoprotective creams. This is a very dynamic and innovative sector, which is continually presenting new formulas seeking to occupy market niches. For this reason, there are increasingly products that offer solutions more adapted to the practice of each sport.

Many brands have sports products, designed precisely for people who practice sports. But how to choose the most suitable product in this wide offer? “An athlete must take into account mainly two factors. The first and most important is that it has a high sun protection factor against UVA and UVB, since exposure is usually prolonged. The second is that the sunscreen is resistant to sweat so that the protection lasts longer,” explains Carla Ferrándiz, assistant to the Dermatology service at the Valle de Hebron Hospital in Barcelona and member of the Catalan Society of Dermatology.

Apart from these considerations, we must also take into account which part of the body the sunscreen is going to be used for, as explained by Maria Luisa Bertomeu, member of Dermopharmacy at the Very Illustrious Official College of Pharmacists of Valencia (MICOF).

“There are some that are formulated in such a way that the external base is watery and inside it is like a micelle that has sun protection. This way, even if the athlete runs, sweats, and gets the protector in his eyes, it will not sting. These types of formulations are very good to use on the face. For other parts of the body, there are some that have a little alcohol, which makes it refreshing when you put it on, it does not dry out the skin due to the type of formulation they have and they are absorbed very quickly.”

Taking into account the type of sport that is practiced, it is interesting to look for protectors with a specific characteristic that makes them more suitable. "In the case of sports such as swimming, they must be waterproof, that is, resistant to water, although we must not forget that no sunscreen achieves one hundred percent water resistance and that the effectiveness of the product decreases due to rubbing. , sweating, non-homogeneous application... In cycling, the ideal protector has to be sweatproof, which indicates resistance to sweat, rubproof, which indicates resistance to rubbing, and of course safe-eyes, which does not sting the eyes," lists Teresa Bonnin. .

Maria Luisa Bertomeu also explains that it is interesting for certain sports practices to use quickly absorbed products. “For those who do canyoning, which is usually practiced in high mountains, they have released some new textures that are absorbed very well and you do not have the feeling of sweaty hands. This can also be interesting for cycling, for example, so that the handlebars do not sweat.”

How should I use these products?

Experts all agree on the importance of applying the product at least half an hour before starting training or sports practice. “You must also take into account the phototype or skin type of each person to know when it is necessary to reapply the product again. If someone has light skin, for example, they should put on the protector every hour and a half or every two hours. What you should never do is think that because you use a very high protection factor it is no longer necessary to replace the product. We have to think that the sweat and friction of sports practice cause it to be lost," says Maria Luisa Bertomeu.

Experts also point out that the most appropriate thing to do when practicing sports is to use products with a higher level of sun protection, as Bertomeu continues to explain. “Always use the highest protection possible. The texture that you like the most, but always with high protection. The higher it is, the more you protect your skin, as we must not forget that it has memory.”

If you do not use sun protection properly, the most obvious risk is that of a sunburn. “Not only does this have short-term consequences due to pain or even subsequent scarring that could leave spots, but sunburn is also a very important risk factor for the development of skin cancer in the future. Other risks include eye irritation due to contact with an unsuitable sunscreen,” says Carla Ferrándiz.

Some extra considerations

It is also important to keep in mind that some issues may make it more important to increase sun protection. “When there is an injury and you are taking anti-inflammatories, you have to be more careful because they make us more sensitive to the sun and not many people know that. Young girls who take contraceptives should also be more careful, because they are also more sensitive to the sun and can cause spots on their skin,” adds Maria Luisa Bertomeu.

Teresa Bonnin also points out other issues. “Some previous injuries caused by the sun or dermatological disorders such as rosacea, vitiligo or lupus should also be taken into account when choosing sun protection for the athlete.” The expert also points out how sun exposure conditions can also affect the use of these protectors.

“Clouds or humidity partially absorb radiation. The environment is also important to take into account. There are surfaces that reflect incident light, such as snow, which reflects 85 percent, or dry sand, which reflects 20 percent. Other surfaces, however, do it less, such as water at 5 percent, grass at 3 percent or asphalt at 2 percent.”

“In general, we recommend practicing sports early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the intensity of solar radiation is lower,” also points out Carla Ferrándiz, who goes on to explain how solar radiation is also more intense when we are older. altitude. “Therefore, in the mountains protection must also be more intense. And in high-intensity sports with great sweating, the application should be repeated more frequently.”

Many times, when playing sports, clothing that is especially light and promotes perspiration is used. “You should also put sun protection under your sports clothing, unless it is special for the sun, where the sun is not supposed to penetrate as much,” explains Bertomeu.


"Because prevention is better than cure"

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