Protection against the sun

Proper protection against excessive exposure to the sun is vital to prevent skin cancer (you may wish to consult the section devoted to this subject in the book "Cuando calienta el sol" ("When the Sun Shines").

Learning to sunbathe properly

  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun that may cause reddening of the skin (sunburn).
  • The maximum amount of exposure depends on what type of skin you have, the season of the year, the geographical location and the time of day.
  • The time of strongest radiation is in the early afternoon, so you should avoid exposure to the sun between 12 midday and 4pm.
  • Remember that clouds only prevent a small proportion of ultraviolet rays from reaching your skin.
  • Snow, water and ice reflect the sun's rays and make your skin more liable to exposure.
  • Up to the age of 3, young children lack the required skin defenses against solar radiation, and therefore great care must be taken to protect them against excessive exposure that may lead to skin cancer at a later age.
  • Use sunscreens or lotions. These are creams which when applied to the skin act as a barrier against the sun's rays, either by "filtering" radiation by means of chemical substances with absorbent properties (chemical filters) or by forming a "screen" composed of mineral substances that reflect the sun's rays like tiny mirrors (physical filters).

These products should be applied half an hour before exposure to the sun, and applied again approximately every 2 hours. The level of protection is indicated by a number known as the protection factor. A factor of 15 or over provides an adequate level of protection. The use of sunscreens or lotions does not mean that you should not follow the dictates of common sense when exposing your skin to sunlight. Sunscreens do not block solar radiation and should not be used as an "excuse" for remaining exposed to the sun's rays for longer.