Sun is the reason for the existence of life and is an excellent life support system for planet Earth. Exposure to the sun for few hours in the morning is advised because it aids in the formation of vitamin D in the body. However, like all good things, overexposure to sun Rays can create problems related to Skin, which may even lead to cancer.
Effects Of Sun Exposure On The Skin
Protection from the sun is of great importance and should be taken care of every day no matter how the weather is – sunny, cloudy, some clouds, no clouds or whatever. Sun rays are composed of UV light which falls on the Earth in equal amount, be it sunny or cloudy. The clouds on a rainy day can block up to 20% of ultraviolet rays only. Side effects of sun exposure can lead to the following skin issues –
- Wrinkles And Sunspots – UV rays can cause damage to the collagen, elastin, and connective tissue in the skin by creating free radicals. Damage to these essential structural components of the skin can lead to fine line and wrinkle formation by decreasing the skin’s elasticity. Sun exposure can also accelerate the production of melanin, the brown pigment in the skin. Increased melanin production in certain areas can lead to the formation of hyperpigmented spots called sunspots.
- Tanning – The increase in melanin production can lead to an overall darkening of the exposed areas of the skin such as the face, neck, arms, and feet. Sun tanning is the most common effect of increased sun exposure.
- Irritated Skin – Skin rashes can erupt due to overexposure to sunlight in the form of reddened areas of the skin that are irritated and can also become itchy later.
- Sunburn – Being out in the sun for prolonged periods of time can lead to sunburn, wherein the skin literally feels like it’s been burnt. There is redness, swelling, blister formation, tenderness, and even flu-like symptoms can develop.
- Skin Cancer – Over the years, exposure to sunlight without any protection can cause intense UV damage to the skin cells and lead to skin cancer. Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are the common types of skin cancer seen.
Body Areas You Should Protect From The Sun
On a day to day basis, the clothing we wear can provide us some protection from the sun rays. However, certain parts of the body are often exposed to sunlight on a daily basis. These include –
These areas of the body are often not covered by clothing and are subjected to sun damage. It is important to use specific measures to protect these usually exposed body areas from the sun.
How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun?
In India, the amount of sunlight we receive makes our skin to be prone to tanning, heat rashes, and other side effects of sun exposure on a regular basis. There are simple ways in which you can protect your exposed skin from being damaged by sunlight and UV rays.
1. Use Of Sunscreens
Don’t forget to dab yourself with either sunscreen or sunblock 20 minutes before you step out into the sun, to have sufficient protection from the sun rays. Select a product with SPF of 30 or above as this is recommended SPF by dermatologists for the environment in India. Also, remember to check the label and ensure that the sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Re-application is mandatory every three hours in the case of continued exposure to sunlight. This is because the effect of sunscreen fades away naturally after this time period.
Apart from using sunscreen on a daily basis, you can also protect your head and your face with a wide-brimmed hat or an umbrella. This is to help stop the sunlight from directly falling on the skin.
3. Avoid Sunbathing
Many dermatologists advice against sunbathing as increased sun exposure can cause severe sunburn and lead to skin cancer. Additionally, avoid exposure to UV rays through artificial sources such as tanning beds.
4. Wear Sun Protective Clothing
Sun protective clothing is apparel which is specially designed to provide protection from the sun. Shirts, trousers, jackets, etc. come with an inbuilt sun protection known as UV Protection Factor (UPF). Check the tags for the clothing item to know its UPF and choose accordingly.
5. Stay Out Of The Sun During Peak Hours
The harmful UV rays from the sun are the strongest between 10 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon and can cause major harm to the skin during this period. This is the time window during which everybody should try to stay indoors. For people who have to stay outdoors for work or some other reason, utilize the sun protection measures given above such as applying sunscreens, wearing hats, etc. without fail.
What Type Of Sunscreen Should I Use?
Use a sunscreen that has a minimum SPF of 30 and offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays for maximum protection from the sun.
What Should I Do Since I’m Allergic To Sunscreen?
Specially formulated sunscreens are available for people who are allergic to the generic ones available in the market. Consult a dermatologist to know which sunscreen is the best for you and will not give you an allergic reaction.
What Does The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) Mean?
Sun Protection Factor or SPF denotes the ability of the sunscreen to block UVB rays. A sunscreen with SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB light and one with SPF 30 blocks 95% of these harmful rays.
Is A High-Number SPF Better Than A Low-Number One?
The SPF number is critical when the value goes up from 15 to 30 as this helps in blocking more amount of UVB rays. However, going higher than this only increases the protection percentage marginally. Hence, most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with SPF 30. Also, using a higher SPF makes most people ignore the other sun protection measures and they tend to stay out in the sun longer. In the long run, this does more damage than good. Using a medium range SPF is ideal from both a dermatological and a psychological point of view.
Do Children Need Different Sun Protection Products When Compared To Adults?
Often, the skin in children is more sensitive to ingredients in sun protection products than adult skin. Choose a product labeled safe for usage in children or speak to your dermatologist for an appropriate sunscreen recommendation for your child.
The increasing awareness about how much the sun can actually damage your skin is leading to an improvement in the measures taken to protect the skin and body from it. The sun is essential for life but is best to be taken advantage of under the protection of effective sun protecting agents. Benefit from all the good the sun can do your body by stepping out into the sunlight in the non-peak hours and always with some sunscreen on.
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