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Skin cancer, sunburn, and sunscreen


Sunburn is an acute inflammatory skin response due to prolonged exposure to UV rays or artificial light like sunbeds. Sunburn is also the leading cause of skin cancer, premature ageing, free radical damage in the skin on a molecular level, and pigmentation (including melasma).

Within 2 hours after sunburn, the Langerhans cells (immune cells) are already damaged, this means that the skin is now more susceptible to pathogen invasion. Continuous sunburn causes the skin to thicken over time and develop a leather-like feel.


Here’s what will help with sunburn:

The best way to avoid sunburn is to avoid going into the sun without sunscreen. Also, keep in mind that sun damage/burn that occurs early in our lives only develops later. This is also what makes treating sun damage very difficult, since most sun damage lesions, get stuck in the dermis.

Below are a few tips just in case because we know everyone loves the sun:

  • Cool the burn, do not ice it.
  • Gently pat the skin dry, do not rub, shave, or exfoliate the area.
  • Avoid products that contain perfumes.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid products that contain AHAs or BHAs.
  • Make use of after-sun products: Lamelle Nourish Rescue repair gel


How to prevent sunburn:

  • Keep an eye on the clock. UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Try to stay out of the sun where possible.
  • Wear a high-quality broad-spectrum sunscreen DAILY!
  • Reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours when you are constantly in the sun, swimming, or sweating.


Other types of light that age us:

  • Visible light.
  • Blue light.
  • Ultraviolet light.


Wavelengths of the sun:

  • UVA (ageing): 340-400nm, this wavelength causes the most damage to our skin.
  • UVB (burning): 320nm.
  • UVC (cancer): 290nm, these rays luckily do not reach the earth.


Skin cancer

Keep an eye out for pre-cancerous lesions:

Also known as Actinic keratosis (AK), these types of lesions can develop into squamous cell carcinomas. AK is caused by prolonged sun exposure or sunbeds. These lesions are a warning that you already have too much unprotected sun exposure!

Risk factors:

  • Tendency to develop freckles.
  • Work outdoors.
  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • If you are older than 40 years.
  • Reside in a very sunny place.
  • A history of sunburn or tanning bed usage.


A few types of skin cancers:

Please never diagnose skin cancer yourself, if you are concerned about any suspicious lesions, please visit your doctor or Dermatologist!

  1. Basal cell carcinoma: Round cells found in the lower epidermis. Often found on the head and neck. This type of cancer does not usually spread and grows very slowly.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma: Flat, scale-like cells. Commonly found on the lips, outside of the mouth, and genital area.
  3. Merkel cell cancer (Neuroendocrine carcinoma): A highly aggressive cancer, fast-growing, but quite rare. It usually develops in areas where hormone-producing cells are present.
  4. Melanoma: This type of cancer occurs in the melanocytes in the epidermis. Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer.


The ABCDE for identifying skin cancers (for educational purposes only):

When looking at a lesion you are concerned about, keep the following in mind when looking at it:

A – Asymmetry.

B – Border.

C – Colour.

D – Diameter.

E – Evolving.

If there is a change in any of the factors mentioned above, it’s best to see a doctor or Dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.



How to choose the correct SPF for your specific skin & concern:




Yes, Vitamin D is important, but burning is not. Remember, skin cancer is easier to prevent than to treat. This is also the case for ageing, premature ageing, and pigmentation. In my opinion, sunscreen is not optional, but mandatory to have healthy skin and proper protection against UV rays and free radicals (which causes a lot of ageing on a molecular level).

Also, reapply your sunscreen every two hours when you’re at the beach or swimming for longer than 45 minutes to avoid burning (even if your sunscreen is waterproof). And please, stay AWAY from sunbeds! It’s worse than tanning in the sun (also, don’t tan in the sun!), rather make use of spray tan or self-tanning creams/spray.

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