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The Importance Of Sunscreen For Skin Health | Affinity Health

With summer in full swing, Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, reiterates the importance of using sunscreen for skin health.


Chasing the Sun

Sunshine is one of South Africa’s most well-known characteristics. In most parts of the country, there are eight to ten hours of sunshine per day. Gauteng is said to have one of the best sunshiny climates in the world!


Sun worshippers agree that soaking up some rays may both literally and symbolically brighten your day. This is because sunlight causes a spike in serotonin, one of your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Another cause is the production of vitamin D, which is beneficial for your bones, teeth and gives your skin a healthy sun-kissed glow.


Overexposure to the sun, on the other hand, can have a cascading effect on your skin. Sun exposure can cause accelerated aging and raising your risk of skin cancer. Limiting your exposure to the sun and protecting your skin are the greatest ways to protect yourself from its harmful effects.



UVA, UVB, and UVC are the three wavelengths of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun.  While UVC rays have more energy than the other types of UV rays, it does not reach the surface of the earth. It is therefore not normally a risk fact for skin cancer. However, UVA and UVB radiation are.


About 95 percent of the UV rays that reach the ground are UVA rays. The other five percent of UV rays are UVB. UV radiation does not feel like heat on the skin. However, it can be just as intense and dangerous on a chilly, foggy day as it is on a clear sunny day. In reality, clouds allow 80 to 85 percent of UV rays to flow through!


Both UVA and UVB can damage the outermost layers of your skin, causing sunburn and premature ageing. When skin is burned, it becomes red and painful. Swelling and blisters may occur as a result of a severe burn, as well as flu-like symptoms. Such symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, headache, and weakness (sunstroke). These occur as your body attempts to rid itself of sun-damaged cells, burned skin will peel and itch.


What Long-Term Damage Can Be Caused By Sunburn?

Sunburns can cause a variety of skin disorders over time. Children, especially those under the age of five, are more in danger of burning because their skin is more sensitive. A child’s skin can burn in just a few minutes, and the damage is permanent and cumulative. Nine out of 10 children will have UV-related skin damage by the time they reach puberty.


What Are the Different Skin Types?

The tolerance of your skin to sunburn, UV damage, and skin cancer are determined by your skin type. The Fitzpatrick Scale is a classification system for different skin types and how they react to UV light or sun exposure. The number scale was developed by determining the amount of melanin in the skin after exposure to the sun, as well as physical traits such as eye and hair colour.


Dermatologists frequently use the scale to determine whether therapies are appropriate for the individual, as well as to analyse skin cancer risk factors. Any skin type, including darker skin, can burn. You should protect your skin regardless of your skin type because it is still prone to sun damage.


The following list shows the six categories of the Fitzpatrick scale:
  • Type I – (scores 0–6) always burns, never tans (palest, freckles)
  • Type II – (scores 7–13) usually burns, tans minimally (light coloured but darker than fair)
  • Type III – (scores 14–20) sometimes mild burn, tans uniformly (golden honey or olive)
  • Type IV – (scores 21–27) burns minimally, always tans well (moderate brown)
  • Type V – (scores 28–34) very rarely burns, tans very easily (dark brown)
  • Type VI – (scores 35–36) never burns (deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown)

Defend Yourself Against Skin Cancer

Cancer is a term that no one likes to hear. It’s frightening and uncomfortable. But it’s important to understand that the vast majority of cancers are caused by the sun.


Every year, about 5.4 million people are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin malignancies. Melanomas are the most dangerous, with one person dying from one every 52 minutes, according to data.


Exposure to UV light from the sun is responsible for 86 percent of melanomas. Melanomas are frequently mistaken for moles (some actually develop from moles).


  • Melanomas are most commonly black or brown, although they can also be pink, red, purple, blue, or white.
  • Melanomas are frequently asymmetrical, meaning the shape isn’t uniform. Non-cancerous moles, on the other hand, are usually symmetrical and consistent in appearance.
  • Melanomas frequently have irregularly shaped or poorly defined borders, but non-cancerous moles normally have smooth, well-defined margins.
  • Melanoma lesions come in a variety of colours and shades. The majority of benign moles are one colour.
  • Melanoma tumours typically have a diameter of more than 6mm, which is about the size of a regular pencil.


“It’s critical to examine your skin for suspicious moles, patches, freckles, or lesions on a frequent basis. If you notice anything that raises a red flag, make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“It’s also important to remember that sunbeds, sunlamps, and tanning booths all emit the same dangerous radiation as sunlight does. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, those who use a tanning bed for the first time before the age of 35 have a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma.”


Ways To Stay Sun Smart

Come rain or shine, everyone in your family should practice everyday sun safety. Here are a few tips from Affinity Health:


  • Make it a habit to use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of at least 20. When exposed to the sun, water, or sweat, the efficiency of sunscreen can be affected, so it’s important that you apply sunscreen regularly (every two hours or so).
  • Wear UV-protective clothing, wrap-around sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, ears, and back of your neck if you’re spending the day outside.
  • Invest in a large umbrella or shade tent and avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 15 a.m., when the sun’s rays are at their most intense.
  • Keep an eye on the UV Index. While you should always avoid overexposure, you should take extra precautions when the UV Index predicts very high or above-average exposure levels.
  • Seek shade when UV rays are at their strongest, but keep in mind that shade structures like trees, umbrellas, and canopies do not provide complete sun protection.
  • Teach your children about sun safety from a young age and ensure they go to school wearing sunscreen, with extra lotion packed in their bags just in case.
  • Remember that sun protection is required in all outdoor settings, not only at the beach, in, or in the pool. Anytime you leave your home, sunscreen should be applied.


Learn More: Skincare: Summer VS Winter

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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