After experiencing the UK heatwave last week, what better time for “Stay out the Sun Day to arrive”. We all love a summers day and making the most of it but with high temperatures, can come dehydration sunburn and worse. Stay Out Of The Sun Day is about looking after yourself by taking a day away from the sun and finding some nice, relaxing shade or at least ensuring you covered in sun cream with plenty of water to hand. Moderate sun exposure will provide you with a healthy, all-natural dose of Vitamin D, but spending too much time bathing in the sun speeds up the ageing process and cause some serious health issues.
Risks of Sun Exposure
The main risk of sun exposure is sunburn, premature skin ageing, skin damage, lowered immune system, eye injuries and skin cancer. Many people are not aware that some medicines make you more sensitive to the sun so this is also worth considering when planning your sun exposure. The sun can hit at unexpected times including when it is cloudy, but particularly when reflecting off snow, water, concrete and sand, so as bizarre as it seems, don’t forget your sunscreen when you head up the mountains skiing.
Sunburn and skin damage- When your body defends itself against UV rays, your skin tans or darkens. Too much sun exposure allows UV rays to reach your inner skin layers, also known as sunburn. This can cause skin cells to die, damage, or develop cancer. The first and most obvious symptom of sunburn is redness of the skin and often includes a stinging pain and heat that radiates from the skins surface. Each time you are exposed to sun without sun screen, you are aging your skin faster and encouraging lines and wrinkles to form.
Lowered immune system- White blood cells work constantly to protect your body so when your skin gets burnt, the cells help create new cells, but this can put your immune system at risk in other areas.
Eye Health- Although sunglasses are a summer fashion statement, they are also crucial for protecting against harmful UV rays that can damage the tissue in your eyes and effect vision. Direct exposure to sunlight can damage your retinas and over time leads to, burning the outer layer called the Cornea and develop cataracts.
How to handle sun exposure
Slip Slop Slap and Wrap is a great way to remember and teach to others when it comes to protecting yourself in the sun. Using sunscreen is the simplest yet very effective form of protection from the sun. The higher the SPF the stronger protection will be provided against UV rays. However, sun screen should just be considered a filter and does not block all UV rays. Sunscreen should not be used as a way to prolong your time in the sun. Sunscreens are available in a variety of forms including; lotions, creams, gels sprays wipes, lip balms and even in make-up. A limit of 30 SPF is recommended for day to day use, with re-application every 2 hours. Covering up using hats and sunglasses protects delicate areas of skin and your eyes and be particularly careful between the hours of 10am-4pm when the sun rays are at their strongest.
Identifying signs of Skin Cancer
There are two types of skin cancer; melanoma, the deadliest form of which around 13,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK, and non-melanoma, of which there are more than 100,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Recognising the signs of non-melanoma skin cancer is important and best to be found at the earliest stage possible. Usually a lump or discoloured patch of skin appears and does not heal after four weeks. Also, look out for a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over or bleeds for more than 4 weeks. Not all skin cancers can be identified so it is also important to keep an eye for symptoms including, red patches on your skin, redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole and any new spots.
Despite the serious health effects that over exposing ourselves to the sun can cause, there are some positive effects that should definitely encourage you to get outside and soak up the rays, in the safest way. Spending 15-20 mins a day in the sun will enable your body to produce an adequate level of Vitamin D, which is then used to break down calcium to strengthen bones. The sun also has an impressive effect on our moods and I am sure many will agree that when the sun shines, the smiles do to! And there is a scientific reason for this- the sunlight stimulates glands in our brain to produce tryptamines that improve our mood.
The effects of the sun can cause damage to your skin all year round. By taking care of your skin and providing it with the protection it deserves, you can ensure that you stay healthier for longer.