While sun exposure in moderation is vital to help the body produce vitamin D, recent research continues to show that excessive UV exposure is cited as a contributing factor in skin damage in 80% of cases. Some of the key symptoms associated with overexposure to UV rays are premature wrinkles, age spots and in some cases skin cancer, making sun safety extremely important. How can aesthetic practitioner’s best advice their patients about sun damage?
Cosmetic practitioners see the effects of sun damage on their patients’ skin on almost a daily basis, with many patients seeking cosmetic treatments to rectify damaged skin. Cosmetic treatments such as laser resurfacing are often used to treat sun damaged skin and have grown in popularity in recent years.
As a practitioner, understanding your patient’s wants and needs is vital, however it is also important that you use this opportunity to advise them on the aftercare they require immediately after a procedure, and in the case of sun damage, the precautions they can take to minimise the risks of further damage in the future.
What advice can you give to patients about sun safety and preventing sun damage?
As a practitioner, the most important thing you can do is to educate your patients about the link between sun damage and UV rays. Of course, this is also heightened if your patient has recently undergone a treatment.
Some key facts surrounding sun damage are often surprising, for example
- UV rays emitted from the sun, UVA and UVB rays all penetrate the atmosphere
- 95% of the damage to skin is from the UVA rays
- UVA rays can penetrate through both clouds and glass
- UVA rays are present throughout the year during daylight hours, although we may be more aware of them during the summer months
When it comes to sun damage, prevention is definitely better than cure do educate your patients to be safe in the sun and limit the damage in the first place.
Chris Gill, Managing Director at multi-award-winning skin clinic Good Skin Days recommends ”A high quality broad spectrum SPF is worn every day to ensure the protection of the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Most of our patients do not realise the importance of protecting their skin not only in summer but also throughout the winter months, as UVA rays are present every day of the year. We recommend our bestselling product Heliocare SPF50 Gel for daily use.”
As mentioned, skin damage from UV rays can be enhanced if the patient has recently undergone treatment. It is important to make them aware from the outset that they should take precautions not only before, but also after treatment when their skin is likely to be more sensitive. At their initial treatment consultation, it is a good idea to analyse the current state of the skin to establish the most beneficial treatments. In addition, ensure that when recommending a treatment you cover after-care information on sun safety.
For example, following some aesthetic treatments, such as laser treatments, the new photosensitive skin that regrows can be very easily damaged by sun exposure. Skin that is severely sun damaged can have a higher incidence of actinic keratosis and skin cancers as well as being more susceptible to pigmentation.
It is up to the practitioner to ensure that patients are aware of the dangers and allow the recommended time following a treatment before exposing their skin to the sun.
Top tips for staying safe in the sun and avoiding sun damage
- Make sure you incorporate the topic of sun damage into every patient’s initial consultation. Remind them of the importance of using a good quality sunblock and remind them that the UVA rays, which cause the most damage, are present all year round and can pass through windows and clouds.
- Inform your patients the best was they can prepare their skin before the summer months when they are likely to spend more time outside. For example, by avoiding chemical peels and products containing acetic acid and retinoid that can increase skin sensitivity, for three months before major sun exposure and minimise sun damage. Exfoliating and ensuring skin is kept hydrated can also be beneficial.
- Remind patients that they can minimise future sun damage by using a good quality sunscreen (minimum SPF30) that counters both UVA and UVB rays, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and staying out of the sun where possible and particularly at its strongest from 11am – 3pm.