|Have you ever spent much time having fun in the sun trying to get a deep and dark looking tan? Although the sun is beneficial to some extent as in increasing energy and metabolism, guarding off depression, and promoting immunity to prevent diseases, it also poses some detrimental risks that may outweigh the benefits. Learn how to protect yourself from the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure.
The sun has ultraviolet A and B rays. These ultraviolet rays are the main cause of the most common form of skin cancer in the United States and in other parts of the world. Higher incidence of skin cancer is seen in young adults and increases with age. It is also more common in men than in women. Other risk factors include a personal history of skin cancer, family members that have been diagnosed, severe sunburns in childhood, fair skin that burns easily, living near the equator or in high altitude, having 50 moles or more, sun bathing, and the use of tanning beds. Skin cancer can be prevented by taking these sensible precautions:
• Limit the sun exposure during its peak hours of ultraviolet radiation from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Since sunscreens don't offer a complete protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, it is advisable to wear protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face and neck.
• Wear dark clothing since it absorbs ultraviolet rays.
• Wear long sleeves to cover the arms and long pants or skirts to cover the legs.
• Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 or higher on both cloudy and sunny days. The sun still has invisible ultraviolet rays even if the sky is overcast. Sunscreen with a higher number of sun protection factor on the label also offers a higher sun protection. The sunscreen should block both ultraviolet A and B radiation. Apply the sunscreen liberally to all exposed areas including the ears, forearms, hands, and neck. For maximum protection, be sure to re-apply the sunscreen every few hours when staying under the sun for a longer time.
• Remember to wear protective sunglasses.
• Avoid surfaces such as the sand, snow, or water as they reflect the sun's rays.
• Avoid sun lamps and tanning areas since they have artificial ultraviolet A radiation.
• Children have sensitive skin and are vulnerable to sunburn and they should be protected as well. They should wear clothing and hats to protect their skin from the harmful rays of the sun and therefore avoid the risk of getting skin cancer.
Having recreational sun exposure is fun to people who enjoy outdoors. Be aware that the sun can damage your skin even on cloudy days and be sure to stay in the shade during the peak hours. Finally, remember to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with ultraviolet A and B blocking properties to protect your eyes.