Whether you’re abroad or in the UK, keeping sun protection in mind is essential if you plan to be heading outside. Even if the weather doesn’t feel too warm, if you are going to be exposed to direct sunlight then you will be susceptible to the potential dangers caused by the sun. Dehydration, sunburn, eye damage, and even skin cancer are just a few of the many risks associated with exposure to direct sunlight if the body is not sufficiently protected. Below, we discuss the potential effects the sun can have on the human body, and how to protect yourself correctly.
Although the sun has some definite benefits to the body, such as being a key source of vitamin D, which ensures proper bone formation, there are also many harmful properties that you need to keep an eye out for and learn how to protect yourself against. If exposed to for excessive periods of time, the suns ultraviolet rays may begin to burn the skin. Sunburn will not only leave you in severe pain but also has the potential to cause skin cancer if exposed for a prolonged period.
Dehydration is another thing to look out for, after spending extended periods of time in direct sunlight. The heat of the sun will cause you to sweat, which consequently may lead to dehydration if you do not have enough liquid in your system. It’s essential that you consume enough water on a warm day, and keep an eye out for signs of the problem such as vomiting and dizziness, in severe cases. If you experience signs of dehydration, top your body up with water, and move indoors, or into the shade to give yourself a chance to cool down.
Too much exposure to the suns ultraviolet rays, will, with time, reduce the elasticity of your skin, leaving it dry and wrinkled, which is definitely something to keep in mind if you are conscious of your appearance. To stay looking young, make sure you are using a good quality moisturiser on the skin daily, especially after extended periods in exposed sunlight.
There are multiple precautions that can be taken to ensure you stay safe in the sun, including:
Between the months and March and October in the UK, the sun is at its highest, particularly between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Due to the strength of the sun between these times, you should aim to stay in the shade for the duration, if possible. Although precautions can always be taken to practice sun safety, it’s important to be extra vigilant during peak hours. Wearing a high factor sun cream, in addition to a suitable hat and sunglasses, will help protect the body if you do have to venture out.
Although great to a certain extent, unfortunately, sun cream doesn’t have the ability to completely protect you from the sun. This is why it is so important to aim to stay in the shade during peak hours, however, if it is necessary for you to be exposed to the sun during its strongest hours of the day, keep topped up on a high factor suncream to provide yourself with an extra protective layer. Using a suncream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more will ensure your skin is kept as protected as possible. For children, use specially formulated kids’ sun cream, and if you’re planning to take a dip in the pool, always remember to use a cream that is water-resistant.
How to apply sunscreen: Although it may sound simple and self-explanatory, it’s important you know how to apply your sun cream correctly to ensure you gain the maximum benefit from the product. Using an average amount of at least two tablespoons of sun cream to cover the entire body, should do the job just fine if applied correctly. Remember to apply the cream to all areas of your body that are exposed, including areas such as your head, ears, and hairline.
When exposed to the heat of the sun, you will begin to sweat, especially if you are participating in some form of exercise. Sweating causes the body to lose vital fluid, meaning that it is essential to keep topped up on water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Even though it might seem like a nice idea to practice yoga by the beach on a nice day, try to keep your yoga mat in the shade during hours of intense sunlight. To keep an eye on your hydration levels, check the colour of your urine when you go to the toilet. The ideal colour should be a very pale shade of yellow, this indicates that you are drinking enough.
Although your skin may be the most obvious worry when it comes to sun protection, it’s also important to protect your eyes, too. Exposure to direct sunlight without the correct eye protection may cause the eyes to experience a stinging sensation, similar to sunburn. To avoid this, it’s important to wear sunglasses with at least 99-percent protection against both UVA and UVB light and to wear tinted goggles when swimming, if possible.
Reducing the amount of skin exposed to direct sunlight will reduce your chances of getting a sunburn, and therefore, in the long-term, skin cancer. A full brimmed sun hat is ideal for shading your face, neck, and ears, making this choice of headwear much better than the sometimes preferred, cap. Wearing a long-sleeved top and trousers is also a good idea, but ensure they are made out of a breathable fabric such as linen to keep you from overheating.
The use of sun beds is something that we highly advise against, due to the harm prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause, particularly at this intense level.
If you have paler skin, freckles or red hair, you should ensure you take extra care in the sun as it is likely you will burn a lot more easily than those with a darker complexion.
The sun protection tips above follow the guidelines of the Skin Cancer Foundation; however, there are a few extra precautions you can take to help prevent skin cancer. Firstly, ensure that sun cream is kept topped up every 2 hours or so when in direct sunlight, more if you decide to go for a swim, even if the sun cream you’re applying is water-resistant. Also, if you are out with children under six months of age, it’s essential that they are kept out of the sun entirely, in addition to being kept up to date with a high factor, children’s suncream.
As with all types of cancer, identifying the symptoms and seeking help as early as possible is essential for a speedy, and full recovery. Most frequently, skin cancer will appear as a birthmark or mole-like element on the skin. Typically having an uneven edge, and sometimes changing colour from brown to black, the mole or spot may increase in size if left untreated.
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms associated with skin cancer, it’s important to visit your local GP as soon as possible for a full check-up. To keep on top of skin cancer, try to check your entire body once a month for any signs of new skin blemishes, and have your skin examined by your doctor every year, if possible.