Sunday Edit: Knowledge is your most important factor in the sun
This summer, Rudolph Care have partnered with the Danish skin experts at Hudkræftklinikken (Skin Cancer Clinic), so that together with you, we can become even more knowledgeable about the skin during and after a day in the sun. Read our interview with dermatologist Martin Glud, who shares his best advice on how to be safe and best protect your skin under the sun. Take a step into the shade – and read what the expert says. Your warm summer skin will thank you for listening.
Dermatologist and certified Mohs surgeon Martin Glud from the Hudkræftklinikken (Skin Cancer Clinic) is an expert when it comes to skin and sun. As a senior physician in both the Dermatology Department at Bispebjerg Hospital and a Mohs surgeon at the Hudkræftklinikken (Skin Cancer Clinic), he is responsible for the surgical treatment of patients with skin cancer. A type of cancer which unfortunately, according to the Danish Cancer Society's figures from 2021, affects almost 19,000 new cases per year in Denmark alone.
It doesn’t have to go that wrong, of course. With care, sensible behavior, protective products, and prevention, according to Martin, you can take good care of your skin and enjoy the sun throughout your life.
Once and for all: Sunscreen works
When it comes to sun protection, there are several factors at play. Maybe you come from a family where everyone was slathered in cream from birth - and you just continued with that. Or maybe you grew up with the myth that ‘you get more tanned without sunscreen’. Perhaps you’re not a fan of sun and sand and prefer to stay in the shade – or maybe you associate the feeling of summer with sore shoulders and dry shins.
Regardless, Martin is very clear about one thing: Sunscreen works. Both for acute sunburn and in the prevention of skin cancer and melanoma. Sunscreen prevents precursors to cancer and sun damage in the form of broken blood vessels and pigmentation changes. And it also reduces the number of wrinkles, so you simply look fresher. Effective sunscreens block both UVB rays, which cause acute sun damage and only penetrate the outer layer of the skin – and therefore do not make you tan but are responsible for possible sunburn. Most sunscreen also block UVA radiation, which accounts for 95% of the light that reaches the Earth and gives the skin a darker glow but also damages the skin’s DNA and thus, potentially, can contribute to the development of skin cancer.
Healthy sun rays
Although the sun may initially sound like the skin’s worst enemy, most of us are well aware of its many positive qualities when we long for the summer and sun. The sun brings well-being and relaxes the body and muscles. Sunlight counteracts depression – not to mention provides us with vitamin D, which is essential for the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize calcium for bones and muscles. And it is formed in the skin through ultraviolet rays. So, in reality, it’s the same with the sun as with everything else good in life: Embrace it, but in moderation and with common sense. Better too little than too much. And take good care of yourself and those you share the sun with, with effective sunscreen.
The biggest mistake most of us make is that we use far too little sunscreen, usually because we want it to go quick. We therefore end up applying it sporadically and unevenly. But this won’t give you sufficient protection. Instead, an easy trick is to apply sunscreen twice in a row. That way, you’ll cover more of the unprotected areas – and we’re talking about an amount of cream equivalent to a golf ball each time. In Denmark, SPF 15 should provide the necessary protection, but people often use SPF 30 or 50 – and that’s fine, says Martin.
The rule is simple: the more time you spend in the sun, the hotter it is, and the closer you are to the equator, the more frequently you need to apply sunscreen. Typically, in Denmark this is from April to September. UV radiation depends on where you are on the planet and what time of day you're in the sun.
Slightly too warm shoulders after sunset
Once the damage is done, there will be no doubt about it. A sunburn is essentially a first-degree burn, and it can be unfortunate to bring it home after a good, long beach trip with insufficient protection. A burn is an acute inflammation that instantly triggers DNA damage and cell death. In short, the top layer of skin dies and will typically dry out and peel off. The best thing you can do is take cold baths. A good after-sun product can cool – and maybe even numb slightly, but it’s the cold water that, like with any other burn, restores balance to the skin, says Martin.
The best advice to avoid sunburn is to be aware of the amount of time you spend in the sun. If there's a slight breeze by the sea, you can’t rely on how your skin feels. If the skin starts to redden, it’s too late. And it’s a myth that the skin should be red before it tans. Red skin is burned skin – and should be protected immediately. Cold baths, shade, possibly a local anesthetic ointment and painkillers, as well as cooling after-sun lotion and cream, are the best remedies for sunburn, explains Martin. And, of course, a change in behavior when it comes to using sunscreen.
A lifetime under the sun
There’s no doubt that excessive sun worshiping has nothing to do with self-care. It’s one of the fastest ways to accelerate the aging process of the skin, and yes, the direct path to developing precursors to or outright skin or melanoma cancer. At the same time, it’s precisely those symptoms and changes in the skin that you need to keep a close eye on. If you experience changes in the skin, wounds that come and go, moles that change shape and character. Then you should have professionals examine you.
That being said, of course, you should first and foremost enjoy and love the sun. You should live life under the open sky with all those you care about and experience the joys of sunshine. Most importantly you should use sunscreen. It’s as simple as that. Use sunscreen.
Martin Glud and the most important sun advice from Hudkræftklinikken (Skin Cancer Clinic).
- Use sunscreen – much more than you think. SPF 30 is sufficient in Denmark – and otherwise, it’s always good to have an SPF 50 in your bag. The strength of the SPF has no influence on your ability to get a tan.
P.S. Apply sunscreen to yourself and your children in two rounds to ensure that you have enough sunscreen on and don’t miss any spots – and reapply throughout the day.
- Remember: a good self-tanner can give you a nice glow, without any sun damage.
- Enjoy sunbathing responsibly and behave according to your skin type. You can safely lie well-covered in the sun. But don’t hold a mirror under your chin and forget all ideas about tanning beds.
- Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest and get checked if your skin undergoes changes.
About Hudkræftklinikken (Skin Cancer Clinic)
Hudkræftklinikken.dk has private clinics in both Copenhagen and Skanderborg. At the clinic, skin cancer is treated with Mohs surgery; an effective and safe surgery for the treatment of skin cancer when it comes to removing cancer and minimizing scarring.
You can read more about Hudkræftklinikken (Skin Cancer Clinic) at hudkraeftklinikken.dk.