We all know just how important it is to stay protected in the sun, especially for us with Vitiligo. Since developing Vitiligo, my Mum has stressed the importance of using sun cream with the highest SPF. As kids, whenever we used to travel, both in the UK and aboard, Mum would smother my skin in sun cream before getting me dressed every day. She would always use factor 50 which, even though made me feel as though I was melting in the sun, always prevented me from burning or causing damage to my skin.
As I got older and became aware that the ‘sun kissed look’ was preferred by the girls in magazines, I started to avoid sun cream altogether. I’d watch as friends applied factor 5 whilst on our summer holidays and convinced myself that just a little sun wouldn’t do any harm. When I realised that Vitiligo prone skin didn’t quite tan in the same way, I quickly learnt my lesson and reached for the sunblock instantly.
Living in the UK, I’ve always brushed off the idea that the little sun we get will cause any damage, however I soon learnt that even the seven the lowest rays of sun can still have harmful and long lasting effects, even when hiding behind the clouds. Now, I always ensure that my makeup and moisturisers always contain SPF.
So, what does the sun mean to us with Vitiligo?
Due to the lack of melanin in our skin, our patches are more vulnerable to sunburn because we have no protection against the sun. ‘Normal’ skin is protected by melanin (skin pigment) whereas for us, our patches mean we have no natural protection against the sun meaning we burn alot quicker.
To stay well protected, it is vital you use a sunscreen; as this protects us from the ultraviolet lights that comes from the suns rays. There are two types of rays; UVA (long rays) and UVB (medium length rays). To keep our skin well protected, an SPF of 30 or higher is necessary, especially during the hotter months.
What does Sun Awareness Week mean?
Sun Awareness week begins on May 8th and was introduced by the British Association of Dermatology (BAD) after a survey revealed that eight out of ten people are failing to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. A shocking statistic considering the dangers around exposing the skin in the sub. Sun Awareness Week is about increasing awareness around protecting your skin, making sure it is applied properly and reminder that sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours for maximum protection.
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