Although spending time in the sun is something we all enjoy, it is crucial that we keep in mind the ways in which the sunlight can damage our skin and eyes. By taking the correct precautions when out in the sunshine, the negative effects such as skin cancer and premature aging can be reduced.
How Does the Sun Affect Me?
Exposure to the sun can intensify the effects of ageing on your skin and eyes, and can increase your chances of developing skin cancer, because of the ultraviolet (UV) light in the sun’s rays that permeates your skin and damages the vulnerable cells. To protect your skin and eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, make sure that you don’t burn by using sunscreen, covering up with clothes, a hat and sunglasses, and avoid spending time in the sun when it’s at its peak during the middle of the day.
Using Sunscreen to Protect Your Skin
Sunscreen is an effective way to prevent premature aging and skin cancer, but many of us still don’t use it in the correct way. Always choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and apply liberally to all areas of skin that are to be exposed to the sun at least half an hour before going out in it. You should look for a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and re-apply regularly (at least every two hours), especially if you go into water, sweat excessively, or use a towel on your skin. Although all types of skin are vulnerable to skin damage, you are especially at risk if you have the following:
- Naturally fair or red hair
- Fair skin that burns easily
- Freckled skin or skin with a lot of moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A personal history of skin cancer
- A personal history of sunburn.
Sun Safety for Your Eyes
It isn’t just your skin that requires protection from the sun; UV light can also damage the eyes along with the delicate skin around them. UVA and UVB rays can cause cataracts, retinal damage and eyelid cancer, and light colored eyes are more at risk as they have less of the pigment melanin that provides some protection against the sun’s rays. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses will shade the eye area from direct sunlight, but be sure to apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and choose suitable sunglasses.
Choosing the Right Sunglasses
Not all sunglasses are equal when it comes to shielding your eyes against harmful UV light. When choosing your sunglasses, look out for a pair that blocks a minimum of 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays; a label marked ‘CE’, ‘UV 400’ or ‘BS EN 1836:2005’ indicate optimum protection. The size and shape of your sunglasses also have an influence on their level of protection. The larger the frame the larger the area of protection, and wraparound styles are especially effective at blocking the sunlight from getting to your eyes from all angles.
Protecting Yourself in the Sun
Spending time in the sun always makes us feel good, and here in the UK it’s understandable that we’re inclined to want to make the most of whatever sun we can get! However, before running outside to take advantage of the sunshine it’s important to remember the ways in which the sun’s rays can be harmful to our skin and eyes, and make sure that you and your family are fully protected.
This article comes to you from CS Healthcare a specialist provider of health insurance plans to those that work, or have worked, in the civil service, public service and not-for-profit sector, including their families.
This article is intended as general information only. If you or a family member have any medical concerns, please contact your GP or medic.
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