Covid vaccine and sun: what you need to know

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Many Italians are already in vacation spots and others will join them shortly. With summer entering its climax, one of the most recurring thoughts is how to best preserve the skin from harmful sun rays.
A habitual concern during the hottest season, but which this year is enriched with a new element of reflection capable, perhaps, of changing the choices in terms of protection. In fact, summer 2021 is the second of the Covid era but the first that coincides with the global vaccination campaign against the virus.

The question, therefore, arises spontaneously: vaccine and sun exposure can coexist peacefully or strategies need to be implemented specifics to spend a peaceful summer?
To clarify, we asked the Director of the Dermatology Department of the Maggiore Hospital in Parma, Claudio Feliciani.

THE SUN DOES NOT AFFECT THE VALIDITY OF THE VACCINE
“There is a lot of talk about this issue but, while not forgetting that each case may have slight differences, I feel I can reassure everyone by saying that there is no reason not to spend a carefree holiday by the sea or in the mountains, even if you are to get vaccinated or have recently had an inoculation, ”he explains. Exposure to the sun, in fact, does not affect the validity of the vaccine in the least. «The sun is an immunosuppressant but does not in any way determine the decrease in the effectiveness of the compound, therefore if you have booked your holidays even on the day of the administration, you can leave with peace of mind».

SKIN MUST ALWAYS BE PROTECTED
According to the professor, moreover, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine does not make the skin more prone to damage caused by UVA and UVB rays at all. “This applies to any type, both those with messenger RNA (Comirnaty Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna) and with viral vectors (AstraZeneca / Vaxzevria and Janssen by Johnson & Johnson)”.
However, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down altogether. “The biggest risk in my opinion is precisely this, namely that most people, tired after the long months of the pandemic, live this summer as a sort of liberation and forget to protect themselves, both from contagions and from damage from the rays ultraviolet on the skin. To avoid the latter, the warning is always the same: defend yourself by avoiding exposure to the sun during the hottest hours of the day and always apply a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor».

BEWARE OF SIDE EFFECTS
If the vaccine itself does not make you more vulnerable to the sun’s rays, it can however generate some side effects which, on the other hand, need to be addressed with extra precautions on vacation.
If after inoculation some lines of fever appear or you feel faint, for example, it is best to avoid going to the beach or swimming pool because the excessive heat could further weaken the body.
Those with particularly sensitive skin may also experience swelling of the arm or slight rashes in the area adjacent to the injection, for which the sun is certainly not suitable. “Exactly as for the treatment of eczema, folliculitis and dermatitis due to other factors, it is better not to expose the area to direct contact with the sun’s rays and even later, returning to do so, it is necessary to protect yourself with even more intensity, without however panic. – explains Claudio Feliciani. – Each skin reacts differently to the vaccine and some irritation can happen but this should not ruin our holiday ».

WHEN IT’S BETTER TO PROTECT YOURSELF MORE
Just be a little more careful, as the skin cancer prevention campaign has also pointed out “Smile in the sun” promoted by the Dermopathic Institute of the Immaculate Conception of Rome-Ircss in collaboration with Idi-Farmaceutici, with the aim of raising awareness of specific sun protection for the prevention of skin cancers. According to the campaign, in the event of the appearance of rashes, hives or erythema post vaccination it would be advisable to wait a few weeks before exposing oneself to direct sunlight and then proceeding gradually, without exaggerating and always combining an external photo protection given by creams or spray lotions equipped with filters capable of absorbing UV radiation.
These products must be applied every time you leave the house and are exposed to direct natural light, even in the city, and reapplied constantly, throughout the day, especially if you go to the beach and intend to do the swim in the sea. Salt water, in fact, does not in any way affect the effectiveness of the vaccine, nor can it be responsible for further unwanted reactions, but it has the power to wash off the protection, thus leaving the skin naked in front of the enemy.
For those who have developed particular sensitivities, it could also be useful to combine the use of the cream with a systemic photo protection, which consists in the oral intake of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and carotenoids, all elements with photo protective and anti- photocarcinogenic. In these cases, however, it is always advisable to consult with your dermatologist before taking any action.

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