Your skin can be more sensitive to sunlight due to your cancer treatments. Even low amounts of sun exposure can attend to unfortunate effects because the sun produces several types of ultraviolet rays.
Ultraviolet light is powerful even though it represents a tiny proportion of the sun rays that reach our planet. There are three different types of UV rays: UVCs which are filtered out by the ozone layer, and UVAs and UVBs that reach the surface.
UVA rays represent 95% of UV rays which can affect you all year round, in every place and season. They can penetrate the skin down to dermal cells, alter them in the long term and lead to sun allergies, inducing redness or itchiness, photo ageing, pigmentary disorders like spots or pregnancy mask. The damages produced by overexposure to the sun can lead to the development of skin cancer.
In the case of radiotherapy, the area exposed to the rays will be very vulnerable to sunburns and will have to be protected throughout your life. As for surgical scars, that are particularly sensitive to the sun, they run the risk of being easily subjected to hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).
UVBs are high energy and represent 5% of the UV ray that reach us. Even if they are stopped by glass and clouds, they can penetrate the epidermis. These rays give you a suntan, sunburns, allergic reactions, and skin cancer.
I PROTECT MYSELF FROM THE SUN
Every day, even on cloudy or overcast days, UVAs can penetrate the skin and may cause permanent damage to your skin. It is essential to use a cream every day with sufficient protection because some adverse effects of your cancer treatment may worsen with sun exposure, such as dryness, rash, alteration of the cutaneous barrier, inflammation or hyperpigmentation.
From the beginning of your treatment to a year after it ends, you should use a sun protection product that includes UVA and UVB filters with high protection factors. Apply it after your moisturiser, without forgetting the zones that are frequently neglected such as your lips, ears, the back of your neck, the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and your scalp, if you think it is necessary.
Sometimes, strict avoidance of sun exposure might be recommended for the time being. It is always advisable to ask your medical team for advice. Your doctor will be able to tell you when you may apply any given product based on your skin’s condition.
I LIMIT MY TIME IN THE SUN
It is essential to take a few precautions with continuous exposure such as outdoor activities, time at the beach or in the mountains. Work in the shade, sit under a tree, lounge beneath a parasol, or enjoy your lunch under a cooling canopy.
- Plan to do any outdoor activities early in the morning or late in the afternoon, avoid any exposure between noon and 4pm. If you cannot, cover-up your body.
- Cover-up your body by wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt (tightly woven fabrics provide the most effective shield), trousers, sunglasses (CE approval in categories 3 or 4*) and a hat or cap.
- The more you cover up, the more you are protected. Dark and intense colours such as black, navy or red, provide more UV protection.
- Use hypo-allergenic protection products developed for sensitive skin and that feel pleasant to apply. This will protect your skin, which has been weakened by your treatment.
- Re-apply it every two hours on all exposed areas, especially if you are outside. An average-sized woman needs roughly two tablespoons, or one generous golf ball worth of lotion.
- Dermatologists recommend choosing a sunscreen rated as 'high' – SPF 30+, or 'very high' – SPF 50+ for optimal protection from UVB. EU approved broad-spectrum sunscreens also provide UVA protection, and will display the letters 'UVA' in a circle on the packaging.
MAKE SURE YOUR SUNSCREEN PROVIDES PROTECTION TO LONG UVA RAYS IN CREAM
La Roche-Posay Laboratory has developed ANTHELIOS, a range of high and very high protection sunscreens in order for you to find everything from tinted sunscreens to everyday facial sunscreens to “wet skin” textures that can be applied straight out of the pool.
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU
Since 1975 it has been La Roche-Posay’s mission to support those who suffer from sensitive or weakened skin to improve their daily comfort and quality of life.