Come summer, everyone is worried getting tanned when they step out. But you can’t avoid commuting under the sun to meet an appointment, or run an errand. Dr Mohan Thomas, senior cosmetic surgeon, Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Institute, Pune, shares tips on avoiding and remedying suntan. But first he explains how suntan occurs.
What is suntan?
“Suntan is the process where the skin gets darkened or ‘tanned’ due to exposure radiation. Once skin is exposed to UV/infrared radiation, it increases the production of melanin in an attempt to protect the skin from further damage. The increase in melanin may cause your skin tone to darken over the next 48 hours,” says Thomas.
He further explains, “Tan is caused by an increase in the activity and number of melanocytes (the cells that make the pigment melanin). Melanin helps block out damaging UV rays up to a certain extent, which is why people with naturally darker skin are less likely to get sunburned, while people with lighter skin are more likely to end up with this condition. When skin is exposed to UV rays, the rays penetrate to the lower layers of the epidermis, where they trigger cells called melanocytes to produce melanin to try to protect the deeper layers from being damaged even more.”
How to avoid suntan?
Indians generally fall under Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4, 5 and 6. So it is possible to avoid suntan only to a certain extent because it is not possible to block radiations completely, informs Thomas.
Suggestions to avoid suntan:
n Wear a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 or above and re-apply it every 3-4 hours if you go outdoor and at least once even if you plan to stay indoors.
-Limit your sun exposure especially during peak sunlight hours (10 am-4 pm) when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.
-Wearing sun protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses with 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection. Many clothing brands specifically designed for sun protection offer their UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating on the label. Seek out a UPF rating of 30 and above for substantial protection from the sun.
How to remedy suntan?
“Exfoliating and bleaching can be useful for removal of tan. Natural products like white sugar, wheat husk, gram flour etc can be mixed with mild acidic products like yoghurt, lemon juice, honey cucumber, papaya and a moisturising compound (olive oil, tea tree oil etc) to form a natural scrub. However, this should not be used more than three times per week. Mild bleaching (natural) agents can be used more frequently (strawberry, papaya, tomato, cucumber, coconut, banana, potato, milk, yogurt etc) for brightening the skin tone. Oral intake of anti-oxidants like fenugreek and vitamin C rich food products can also go a long way in preventing tanning.
Did You know?
The classification known as the Fitzpatrick skin type (or phototype) depends on the amount of melanin pigment in the skin. This is determined by constitutional colour (white, brown or black skin) and the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (tanning).Type 1 is highly sensitive, always burns and never tans, type 2 is very sun sensitive, burns easily and tans minimally, type 3 is moderately sun sensitive, burns sometimes and slowly tans to light brown, type 4 is minimally sun sensitive, hardly burns but always tans to moderate brown. While type 5 and 6 are insensitive to the sun, the former rarely burns and tans to a dark shade, the latter never burns because it is deeply pigmented.