Why Is Sun Protection Important?
Everyone needs some sun exposure. When the skin gets exposed to the sun, our bodies produce vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium for stronger and healthier bones. We need only a little time in the sun to get vitamin D also, vitamin D is gotten from a healthy diet and food supplements.
Too much unprotective exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to the skin, eye, immune system suppression and skin cancer.
What Causes Sunburns?
The sun radiates light to the earth and part of that light consist of invisible UV rays. When these rays reach the skin, they cause tanning, burning and other skin damages.
- UVA (Long Wave Ultraviolet A) RAYS causes skin ageing and wrinkling, thus contributing to skin cancer such as melanoma ( this is the most serious type of skin cancer, symptom: a new unusual growth or a change in an existing mole, it occurs on any part of the body. A large brownish spot with darker speckles, ark lesions on the palm, soles, fingertips or toes, or mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose vagina or anus)
- UVA rays pass easily through the ozone layer, so they make up the majority of our sun exposure.
- UVB ( short Wave Ultraviolet B) Rays are also very dangerous, cause sunburns, cataracts ( clouding of the eye lens) and have adverse effects on the immune system. The contribution to skin cancer and melanoma is said to be associated with severe UVB sunburns before age 20.
- Ultraviolet (UV) rays react with a chemical called melanin (is a skin pigment. It occurs in both humans and animals, it is what makes hair, skin, and eyes appear darker. Research has found out that melanin helps protects the skin from UV rays. Increased melanin also helps block processes in the body that cause skin cancer)that’s found in the skin. A sunburn develops when the amount of UV exposure is greater than what can be protected against by the skin’s melanin. The risk of damage increases with the amount and intensity of exposure. A tan is a sign of skin damage and does not help protect the skin.
Who Needs Sun Protection?
The lighter one natural skin colour, the less melanin it has to absorb UV rays and protect itself. The darker a person’s natural skin colour, the more melanin it has. But both dark and light-skinned people need protection from UV rays because any tanning or burning causes skin damage.
Here are the five (5) key steps for protecting the skin against the harshness of the sun…
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends everyone regardless of their skin tone must wear sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher. Whichever sunscreen you choose, make sure it’s broad-spectrum( protects against both UA and UVB rays) apply a generous amount and reapply often. Sunscreen reduces the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the skin.
Sunscreen works by filtering ultraviolet radiation with a chemical barrier that absorbs and/or reflects the ultraviolet rays away from the skin. No sunscreen provides 100 per cent protection against ultraviolet radiation, and some ultraviolet radiation will always reach the skin, damaging the cells below. This damage builds up over time and can increase the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.
Avoid the Strongest Rays of the Day
Always try to stay in the shade when the sun is at its strongest ( usually from 10 am to 3 pm these days). If can’t avoid the sun, apply the sunscreen before leaving home and reapply if possible. Most sun damages occur from exposure during day-to-day activities, not from being at the beach. Remember even on cloudy, cool or overcast days, UV rays reach the earth. This ”invisible sun” can cause unexpected sunburn and skin damage.