For years, we have been told to cover up in the sun to reduce the risk of getting skin cancer. yet, now, studies have shown that a sensible amount of sun can prevent certain cancers and be good for us. so, just how good or bad is sun exposure to our health? here are the answers to some common questions.
1. Why is it bad for one to be out in the sun for too long?
Excessive sun-exposure damages the skin. one of the acute effects is sunburn. Symptoms of a sunburn include skin redness, swelling, pain, blistering, headache, fever, fatigue.
Other effect of chronic sun-exposure includes photodamage of the skin. signs of photodamage include a disturbance of skin pigmentation resulting in a mottled appearance with brown and white spots, sallowness of the skin, fine and coarse wrinkling, pre-cancerous skin growths and skin cancer.
2. If we want a tan, is it safer to tan in the sun or in a tanning bed?
Neither. there is no such thing as a safe tan. the changes that occur in the skin in the process of tanning segues into the onset of photodamage. It is difficult if not impossible to draw the line between the two. while there are reparative mechanisms in the skin to restore health after it sustains mild photodamage during tanning, these mechanisms can be overwhelmed by chronic sun exposure, chronological ageing, ill-health, etc. Judicious sun protection is the key to good skin health. The term “healthy tan” is an oxymoron.
3. Is tannIng lotIon the same as sunblock? What does tannIng lotIon really do?
A tanning lotion is a sunscreen that has a low sun protection factor (sPf). its function is to prevent a bad sunburn when the user exposes his skin to the sun in an attempt to tan.
4. is sunblock really necessary all the time?
Many factors to consider: time of the day and intensity of the sun, duration of outdoor activity, reason for using sunscreen, etc.
If you are out jogging from seven to eight in the morning in shady areas or in the evening, you may not need to wear a sunscreen for protection from photodamage.
If you have skin pigmentation for which you are treating in the hope of lightening the affected skin, a sunscreen is needed daily, even when indoors.
Various people have different tolerance for sun-exposure due to their skin-type which is genetically determined.
People with fair skin, light-coloured hair and blue eye(people of Celtic ancestry – Scots, Norwegians, Irish) sustain sunburns easily and do not tan well. those with dark skin, hair and eyes (Africans, Southern Indians) do not burn easily and tan readily.
5. what is the ideal amount of spf?
The spf or sun protection factor of a sunscreen gives an indication of its level of protection from the damaging effects of ultra-violet B (UVB) rays. It does not measure protection against UVA rays.
Both uvb and uva can cause sunburn, skin cancer and premature skin aging. therefore, the us fda asserts that sunscreen products that protect the skin from these damaging effects of sun exposure must be broad-spectrum (protect against uva & uvb) and have sPf 15 or higher. Dermatologists in Singapore generally recommend higher sPfs of 30 and above.