If you are being treated for cancer, whether this is with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy or radiation keeping your skin protected all year around is essential. Cancer treatments can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Even on overcast days, UV rays can still penetrate the skin. Under the right conditions, patients can still burn in the sun on a winter’s day. This makes it essential for patients to keep themselves protected.
Here, we will look at the dangers of sun for cancer patients, alongside what you can do to minimise the risks.
How can the sun damage our skin?
Sun damage is caused by UVB and UVA radiation. While UVB radiation is most harmful in the summer, it can still be present in winter. UVA radiation is associated with skin damage, ageing and specifically in patients being treated for cancer with drug photosensitivity.
UVA radiation tends to stay consistent all year round and can even penetrate through glass. It means that even if you are spending time indoors, you can still suffer skin damage from the sun.
The rays of the sun are strong enough to penetrate through clouds and fog. So, whether it is an overcast day or a bright sunny day; you remain at risk from sun damage if you don’t protect the skin.
When you are undergoing cancer treatment, sun damage can be severe. Depending on what drug you are on, this can happen very quickly, making it crucial to take preventative measures.
How can you protect skin from the sun?
Now that you know how damaging the sun can be, the question is how can you protect yourself?
Protective clothing including hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves are really important for sun protection. Wearing a hat is a good way to protect your scalp, especially for those with thinning hair. Sunglasses with wide frames are also a good idea to protect your eyes and sensitive skin around them. Regular sunscreen is a crucial way to protect the skin throughout the seasons. Ideally, you will want to choose a product which contains a minimum SPF 30 with both UVA and UVB protection.
For those with acne prone skin conditions oil-free SPF formulations are helpful. Look out for ones that contain additional antioxidants and DNA repair enzymes.
A good choice for men is a fragrance-free sunscreen that dries completely clear.
Alongside ensuring you have the right products; you should also avoid being out in the sun for long periods of time.
Cancer patients do need to be extra careful when it comes to keeping the skin safe from winter sun. The above are some of the best ways to keep yourself protected.
For more advice on how best to care for your skin while undergoing cancer treatment, call us on 0208 661 3372 to arrange a consultation with Dr Heelan.