Our tropical season is indicative of fun in the sun for all; however, did you know that too much sunlight exposure is bad for you? Excessive time in the sun can cause permanent skin as well as eye problems, which are extremely damaging. UV rays are capable of penetrating into the deeper layers of the skin and damaging cells, which are then at risk of turning cancerous. Experts are of the opinion that only one episode of blistering sunburn can double your chances of getting malignant melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer. This can affect anyone, but people most at risk are known to have fair skin that burns in strong sun, red or fair hair, a lot of moles or freckles, a personal or family history of skin cancer, and have already had sunburn – especially when young. Those with naturally brown or black skin are not as susceptible to developing skin cancer, as darker skin provides some protection against UV rays. However, it’s best to take precautions as one can never be sure.
Sun protection needs to be taken seriously, no matter what kind of weather conditions you’re experiencing. This is because damage can occur when you’re least expecting it, and the smartest thing you can do is prepare for it in advance. Stay safe when you’re outdoors with the following useful tips:
The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 am and 4 pm, so it’s best to stay indoors during this time. If it’s necessary to be outdoors, cover up and wear sunscreen. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation hats and clothing composed of dark, tightly-woven materials absorb UV light better than cotton fabrics in lighter colours. Dry fabrics do a better job at protecting you from harmful rays than wet ones.
Apply sunscreen diligently around 20-30 minutes before venturing outside, to ensure that it is efficiently absorbed by the skin. Make sure you reapply every two hours, especially if you’re sweating or getting wet. It’s advisable to use sunscreen as well as a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15, and ensure that these are generously applied at regular intervals.
Most people usually tend to forget sensitive areas of the body, which include the tops of the ears, the hairline, the ‘V’ of the chest, the nose, and the hands. Hence, it’s advisable to wear a hat made of a tightly-woven fabric such as canvas, and wear a sunscreen on your hands, feet and other exposed parts.
Doctors have confirmed that there is no such thing as a ‘healthy tan.’ It must be noted that while sunbathing is bad for everyone, it is particularly harmful for fair-skinned people. Most of them are unable to tan anyway and will risk getting seriously burnt. If you must sunbathe, try to go slow and let your skin build up melanin gradually, so that you get some protection.
It’s important to take proper care even out on cooler, cloudier days. The sunrays are not blocked by clouds, and you can get burnt by them if you’re not careful. Even the snow is not an excuse to skip on sunscreen and sunglasses. Higher altitudes, rough winds and snow are definitely not easy to deal with, and wearing appropriate clothing is not the only measure you need to take.
Certain drugs such as tetracycline and diuretics can make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight and increase your chances of sunburn. Certain herbal medications may also affect your body in a similar manner. If you are on medication, it is advisable to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about this possibility.
Tanning booths or tanning beds aren’t really an option for ‘safe tanning’, because this is not possible. UVA rays penetrate the skin even deeper than UVB rays, and damage the skin over time by causing dryness and wrinkles. In addition to this, they also increase your chances of getting skin cancer.
Sun protection gives you a host of benefits, such as protection from brown spots and other skin problems. Opt for it and look forward to youthful skin for longer!
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