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Suntan Prevention: Q And A With Dr. Gul Qaiser

Dr. Gul Qaiser

2 min read

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Suntan or simply tanning is the process where the skin gets darkened or tanned mostly as a result of UV radiation from the sun. Anytime your skin is exposed to the sun without any protection it’s at risk to the damage. Suntan prevention can be done with the help of creams, lotions or dermatological therapies.

Whether you have a suntan or a sunburn totally depends on the shade of your skin and the melanin in your body. 

In this session of oladoc, watch, Dr. Gul Qaiser, an experienced Dermatologist in Karachi share the best preventive measures you can take to save yourself from tanning.  Dr. Qaiser is a foreign qualified dermatologist, with a Dip. Derm (AUS), VGCDT (AUS) and 14 years of experience.

Q.1. Please tell us the difference between suntan and sunburn?

There is certainly a difference, but let me first tell you a little about sun radiation. There are three kinds of sun radiation; UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC layer is blocked by the protective layer of the atmosphere, the ozone layer. But the UVB and the UVB layers reach the earth’s surface and do affect us. 

UVA causes premature ageing, fine lines and wrinkles. This radiation is deeply penetrating and can even pass through windows. It will not cause suntan but will cause ageing. On the other hand, what causes suntan is the UVB radiation. 

So, a suntan is the overall browning of the skin due to excessive sun exposure whereas, sunburn is a burning of the skin. Fair skin types, with low levels of melanin, get sunburnt, whereas brown-skinned people, with high or moderate levels of melanin, get a suntan.

Q.2. Can suntan be removed?

Yes, first of all, make sure that you don’t get suntanned. Apply sunblock whenever you go outside. Additionally, if your skin gets tanned, any dermatologist would prescribe a sunblock and a skin brightening agent.

I would personally recommend an aloe vera- based moisturiser or icing the area.

Q.3. How long does it take for a tan to fade completely?

Well, everyone’s skin reacts differently to sun exposure. There are some people who don’t get too “brown” when exposed to the sun while there are others who are quite easily tanned. So, every person is different. We always recommend the patients to use an aloe vera based moisturiser and use sunblock. In 4 to 7 days, they will feel relief. In some patients, it may take months to get rid of suntan. I advise going to a dermatologist and getting the right treatment plan for you.

Q.4. How does one get rid of a suntan?

I highly recommend using a sunblock if your skin is tanned. This is the basic thing that will prevent tanning and help in getting rid of the existing one.

Patients also ask me about the SPF (sun protection factor), and for that, I recommend using a sunblock anywhere between 30 to 60 SPF. 

For patients with oily skin, we recommend a gel-based sunscreen and for patients with dry skin, we prescribe a moisturising sunscreen. Apply the sunscreen liberally 15 to 30 minutes before you go out the door.

Q.5. Can the sun change the colour of your skin permanently?

If you are getting long-term exposure to skin, around 4-5 hours daily, without any sun protection, then you should expect permanent skin darkening or tanning. Because what happens is that, your skin tanning occurs at a superficial level initially. However, with constant sun exposure, the pigmentation penetrates deeper into the skin. We call this dermal pigmentation or dermal melasma.

So, yes there is a chance of permanent skin damage.

If you want to learn more about skin pigmentation, then watch the full video. Consult a dermatologist if you have any skin concerns.

Book an appointment with a top dermatologist through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Gul Qaiser - Author Dr. Gul Qaiser is a Dermatologist practicing in Karachi. Dr. Gul Qaiser has the following degrees: M.B.B.S, M.R.C.G.P( INT UK), M.C.P.S , Dip. Derm (AUS), VGCDT (AUS) and has 14 years of experience.
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