Sunbathing on Fuerteventura: summer tan without worries.

Sunbathing on Fuerteventura: summer tan without worries.

Find a balance between UV-A and UV-B.

It is a sensitive topic: a dark summer tan vs. a healthy pallor separates the spirits. How much sun can a person tolerate and how dangerous are the rays really for our skin?

Extensive sunbathing, which was very popular from the 70s to the 90s, is now a thing of the past. But first the question: what is it all about?

The sun sends a large electromagnetic spectrum to the earth, consisting among other things of visible light and of the non-visible, so-called ultraviolet radiation from UVA to UVC. The UVA and UVB spectra are important for their positive and negative effects. Especially on Fuerteventura, this topic is of high importance, as the island is much closer to the Equator than at home and, thus, the sun's rays are much more aggressive.

The UVA light tans the skin directly by darkening existing pigment in the deeper skin layers. This is why sunbeds usually work with a higher UVA proportion during irradiation. In addition, the risk of sunburn during tanning is lower.
However, be careful: the supposedly "harmless" solarium tan is by no means without side effects! The long-wave UVA light penetrates relatively deep into the skin and damages the collagen framework of the skin! The consequences are increased skin aging with wrinkles and pigmentation spots.

The short-wave UVB light, on the other hand, is the "culprit" that gives us a severe sunburn. Its high energy stimulates the skin cells to produce melanin and leads to a slow but intensive tan. UVB light is mainly blamed for the development of cancer. It is assumed that frequent sunburns, especially those suffered at a young age, favour the development of the dreaded and dangerous "black skin cancer", the malignant melanoma.

However, excessive tanning over many years without sunburn also leads to the development of cancer. Especially the "white skin cancer", the basal cell carcinoma, develops on chronically light-damaged skin areas such as forehead, face, back or breast. This is also where the less known spindle cell carcinoma, the spinalioma, develops.
In the past decades, all these types of cancer have become more and more frequent, especially the black skin cancer. This is due to our modern leisure habits, which we prefer to spend in the sun. The increased UVB content of light, caused by the so-called "ozone holes" in which less UVB is filtered, also seems to play a role.

On the other side of the balance are the positive effects of sunlight. For example, it lifts our mood and ensures the production of vitamin D in the skin. However, this does not require "full sunbathing": depending on the skin type, 5 to 15 minutes are sufficient.

According to the current state of knowledge, moderate (!) sun exposure should offer a certain protection against lymph node cancer and black skin cancer. The sunlight components of visible light and infrared radiation (IR) should be mainly responsible for this.

Use at all times a sun cream with a protection factor of minimum 30, when taking a sunbath; better is a cream with factor 50. It will take longer to get a tan, but you will damage your skin to a much lesser degree.
Therefore, avoid dark brown and take a health-promoting bath in the Fuerteventura sun!

(Edited from article by Heike Bludau)

Michel Robeers