The wristbands are new in Spain and have been welcomed by dermatologists. :: W. GOLDSWAIN
Summer is now at its peak and this means that most people will be heading for the beaches or swimming pools to spend their leisure time. This year, though, the summer season has brought something new for those who love to sunbathe and build up a good tan: wristbands that help people to protect themselves properly from the effects of the sun.
These wristbands are called ‘smartsun’ and they contain a chemical component that acts as an indicator of the amount of ultraviolet A and B radiation that is being absorbed by the skin. “The wristbands are yellow, and according to how much we expose ourselves to the sun, they change colour. If they go brown, it means that we should apply more sun protection cream. When they go pink, they are telling us that we have had the maximum dose of ultraviolent radiation, so we should not stay out in the sun any longer because we would be in danger of burning, with all the problems that causes for the skin”, esplains María Pocoví, one of the partners in Bluemarionge Business, the company from Valencia that has introduced and developed this product in Spain.
Treat like part of the skin
The wristbands have been invented by Strathclyde University as a way of combating the dangerous effects of the sun on the skin. They help us to sunbathe intelligently and sensibly, and they work for just one day. They are sold in packets of seven and cost seven euros in total. They are available from chemists, drug stores and cosmetic centres.
They are also water resistent and they should be treated as another part of our skin, as one of the creators explains: “What we should do is apply sun protection cream to the wristband, just as we do on the rest of our body. That way, it detects what protection factor we are using and it is very reliable. You can even - and you should, in fact - swim with the wristband on. This is important because when we are in the water the effect of the radiation is greater because of the magnifying effect”, he explains.
For all skin types
The ‘smartsun’ wristbands adjust to all types of wrist and they are designed for people of skin types 1, 2 and 3. They are especially important for those under the age of 18. “Sunburn in children under 18 can have a greater effect in the future because it increases the probability of them suffering a melanoma as they get older”, warns María Pocoví.
This innovation has been warmly welcomed by dermatologists in Spain, who are concerned that society today is not taking the sun seriously enough as something that can be truly damaging to the skin. “I always say that the best thing is never to go in the sun at all, but if you do so then use a great deal of protection, be very careful and don’t stay out in it for long”, says Dr. Javier Pedraz, a dermatologist at the Quirón hospital in Madrid, who is pleased that the ‘smartsun’ wristbands are available. “They are very useful. We don’t believe they can be 100 per cent precise, nor that they can measure ultraviolet radiation perfectly, but they do help to make people think more about theirsunbathing. They serve to alert people. There are studies which show that, thanks to these wristbands, people are already becoming more aware of the dangers of sunbathing. And anything that helps to avoid cancer or other skin problems in the future is more than welcome”, says this specialist.
Use Factor 50 cream
However, with or without ‘smartsun’ wristbands, Dr. Pedraz insists that high factor sun protection must be used to avoid damage which could be irreparable. “Our skin receives two types of ultraviolet radiation: A and B. It is type B that causes burning and is the most damaging to the skin. And the best way of combating it is to use a factor 50 cream, especially for people of skin types 1 and 2, who are fair-haired or redheads, and for whom these wristbands have principally been designed” he explains.
Finally, Dr. Javier Pedraz and María Popcoví agree on one very important aspect of use of these wristbands. They are not only suitable for the beach or the swimming pool, but also for sporting activities outdoors. “The radiation indices are becoming increasingly stronger. We have to stop thinking only of protecting ourselves from the sun when we are on the beach. We have to learn to protect ourselves during everyday activities like walking, running, cycling, sitting outside a bar to enjoy a beer, sitting in a park, etc. Spain is a country which has a very good climate and that means that a great deal of what we do is outdoors, so many of our normal routines involve exposure to the sun. The wristbands are also useful for this type of activity, as part of the necessary precautions whenever we are exposed to ultraviolet radiation”, says Dr. Pedraz.