Is Too Much Exposure To The Sun Bad For You? …in a few words
“In a word, Yes! The risks associated with prolonged exposure to the Sun, especially intense middle-of-the-day sunshine are very real. However, it’s not all bad. If you take the correct and sensible precautions of covering up, applying high SPF sunscreen and staying hydrated, you will still benefit from increased Vitamin D production and increased levels of Melatonin, both highly beneficial to your health, mood and a restful sleep”
And in a few more words… Ok, let’s start with the Sun
As in the one that ‘rises in the East and sets in the West’ is a truly wonderful thing. Not only does it cheer you up, but it seems that without it, none of us would be here at all!
That being said, can you get too much of a good thing?
If you research the effects of exposure to sunlight in humans specifically, you’ll find no shortage whatsoever of very credible research to support the seriously negative effects of over-exposure to sunlight and more specifically, over exposure to UV and UVA.
But is it all bad?
That depends on which camp you happen to support. The risk associated with prolonged exposure to the Sun, especially intense middle-of-the-day sunshine is very real and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It’s an undeniable fact that over-exposure to the sun, results in sunburn, which is effectively a radiation burn, and is the result of an over-exposure to UV (Ultraviolet) radiation which is pumped out by the sun, the effects of which can be seen as visible redness within 20 to 30 minutes of exposure. The varying degrees of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can range from initial mild redness through to first or second-degree burns, which in extreme cases can be fatal!
The body’s initial response to UV radiation (primarily sunshine!) is to increase its production of Melanin, a natural pigment that is present already in the epidermis, (it’s what gives your skin it’s natural color!) which has the ability to dissipate absorbed UV radiation in the skin. Your skin can also experience an increase in the numbers of freckles, which are clusters of concentrated melanin, which are most often visible on people with a fair complexion.
Acute, intense sunburn causes an inflammatory reaction following excessive exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), with initial symptoms such as:
• (skin) Redness, caused by an increase of blood to the affected area.
• Blistering/ruptured blisters
• Peeling skin
• Eye damage – UV light can damage the retina, lens or cornea.
• …And let’s not forget the varying degrees of associated pain that accompany sunburn!
This kind of exposure, not surprisingly triggers an immediate response in our body’s defense mechanisms. In these acute situations, your skin just can’t produce melanin quick enough, so the affected areas become warm, radiating heat from what is essentially a burn, which in turn is caused by the body’s reaction to concentrate blood in the affected area to stimulate skin repair. In extreme cases of severe over-exposure to UV radiation, urgent medical assistance may be required.
If you’ve overdone it…
• Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids especially water. The combination of sun exposure and heat can cause fluid loss through your skin. Drinking helps your body recover.
• Take a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (providing you have no history of a negative reaction!), which may help control pain, until any soreness subsides.
• Try to cool the skin. If the sunburn is not too severe, apply a cool compress, such as a towel dampened with cool tap water, or take a cool bath or shower.
• Apply plenty of moisturizer. Aloe vera lotions and gels have natural cooling and healing properties.
• If you have blisters, don’t burst them. They contain natural healing fluid (serum) and provide a protective layer.
• Peeling skin. Within a few days, the affected area may begin to peel. This is your body’s way of getting rid of the top layer of damaged skin. While your skin is peeling, continue to use moisturizing cream.
• Protect yourself from further sun exposure.
Prolonged Exposure to the Sun
If you expose your skin to the sun over a long period of time, your skin will continue to produce Melanin in a bid to reduce the DNA damaging effects of Ultraviolet Radiation and continued and prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation over time will result in:
• Significant premature ageing of the skin
• A thickening of the epidermis (leather like skin)
• A greatly increased risk of melanoma (Skin cancer)
• Pre-cancerous skin lesions
• A reduction in the skin’s elasticity and strength
• Weakened connective tissues
• Deep wrinkles
• Dry, rough skin
• Fine red spider veins on your cheeks, nose and ears
• An increase in the number of freckles
Sunburn and UV Factors to be aware of:
1. UV rays don’t care about clouds! You can get sunburn on cool, cloudy days. As much as 80 percent of UV rays pass through clouds. Snow, ice, sand, water and other surfaces can reflect UV rays, burning your skin as severely as direct sunlight.
2. The time of day can greatly affect your risk of sunburn. The suns rays are at their strongest between 10am (ish) 4pm (ish)
3. Water, white sand, concrete, snow, and ice. All of these reflect the sun’s rays and can cause sunburns, burning your skin as severely as direct sunlight.
4. The seasons. The position of the sun on late spring and summer days can cause more severe sunburn.
5. At a higher altitude it is easier to become burnt because there is less of the earth’s atmosphere to block the sunlight. UV exposure increases the higher you go.
6. The closer to the equator, the more direct sunlight passes through the atmosphere. For example, the southern United States gets fifty percent more sunlight than the northern United States.
Some Wise Precautions…
By now, you’re probably only too aware of the risks with over-exposure to sun and UV, so let’s talk briefly about some sensible precautions to adopt whilst you’re out and about in the sun Cover up! If it’s not exposed, it can’t get burned!
Believe it or not, simply wearing clothes that cover your skin is an incredibly effective protection against harmful UV rays. Your clothes can be as loose fitting and cooling as you want.
Wear a large brimmed hat! It seems to be the most obvious precaution, but it’s largely overlooked yet it’s incredibly effective as a UV blocker.
Use sunscreen lotion generously and re-apply frequently. Regardless of your skin type, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or greater.
Stay out of the sun where possible. Hog the shade as much as you can.
OK, Enough of the Negative Already, Gimme Some Good News!
Sunlight and Vitamin D For a number of reasons, many people aren’t getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy. In short, your body needs vitamin D.
Good question. lets listen to The undisputed expert in this field… Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD from the Boston University Medical Center.
According to Dr. Holick,
“Vitamin D is not a vitamin but a hormone. It is unique in that it is made in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. Photosynthesis of vitamin D has been occurring on earth for more than 750 million years. Some of the earliest life forms that were exposed to sunlight for their energy requirement were also photosynthesizing vitamin D. Both children and adults have in the past depended on adequate sun exposure to satisfy their vitamin D requirement. It is well documented that at the turn of the last century upwards of 80% of children in the industrialized, polluted cities of northern Europe and north-eastern United States suffered from the devastating consequences of vitamin D deficiency rickets. The skin has a large capacity to make vitamin D. Exposure of a person in a bathing suit to a minimal erythemal dose of sunlight, which is typically no more than 15-20 minutes on Cape Cod in June or July at noon time, is the equivalent to taking 20,000 IU of vitamin D orally. It is now well documented that in the absence of any sun exposure 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day is necessary to maintain healthy levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the circulation. An analysis of the NHANES III data has demonstrated that neither children nor adults are receiving an adequate amount of vitamin D from their diet or from supplements”
So, the two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements. Put simply, you can’t get the right amount of vitamin D your body needs from food alone, which means your options are:
Sunlight or Supplements?
The easiest and most natural way to get your vitamin D quota is to expose your bare skin directly to sunlight (UVB rays). This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to get a deep tan or burn your skin to get sufficient vitamin D.
In addition to exposure to direct sunlight, you can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a suitable alternative for many people who can’t or don’t want to get their vitamin D quota from direct sunlight because of the many risks discussed earlier.
Why do I need vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency has been steadily increasing because people justifiably fear the risks associated with too much exposure to the sun. Again, according to Dr. Holick, studies are now linking vitamin D deficiency with worrying conditions such as breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, the list is worryingly long! For more information about diseases linked to vitamin D deficiency, visit Dr. Holick’s superb website (Click Here) for more information.
So Back to the Sun!
Working from the viewpoint that too much or too little of anything brings risks of some sort or another, you have to conclude that too much exposure to the sun can have very detrimental effects to both your complexion and your health. Understandably the risks have driven people into the shade or under lashings of sunscreen, but the downside of that is that the incidences of vitamin D deficiency have steadily increased.
All that’s needed is some good old-fashioned common sense. If you choose to get your vitamin D quota directly from the sun then take the precautions mentioned above and enjoy. But if exposure to the sun fills you with dread, there’s always the supplement route.
Whether you’re a sun worshipper or not, we all want a firmer, more youthful and healthier-looking face and thankfully, we’ve produced a course that teaches you just that. Our Ultimate Facial Massage Course is an instantly downloadable eBook will not only tell you all about facial massage, facial exercise and facial health, it will also show you how to effectively self-administer a facial massage in no time at all! To try our Ultimate Facial Massage Course risk free for 30 days, click here!
The choice is yours.
Happy (& Safe!) Sunbathing!
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