With temperatures rising, it is so lovely to head outside on sunny days and soak up the warms. However, it is important to make sure you are sun aware and are protecting yourself and your family to ensure everyone can enjoy the sun while being safe.
Being sun safe is a about a lot more than just looking out for how hot the day will be. I am here to talk about UV rays and sunshine as well as the risks and the benefits of both so you can keep yourself happy, healthy and safe this Summer.
What are UV rays?
Sun rays are comprised of three different types of ultraviolet rays – UVA, UVB and UVC.
- UVC rays are the shortest waves and are not able to pass the ozone layer. This means they never reach our skins and therefore are not harmful to us.
- UVB rays are long enough to penetrate the Ozone Layer and can reach our skin's surface. UVB rays are are responsible for causing a tan, burn and some signs of ageing.
- UVA rays are the longest rays and are able to penetrate to the deeper layers of our skin, where they can cause damage. UVA rays can interfere with normal skin cells and cause mutations which then lead to development of Skin Cancers. As well as this, UVA rays can be responsible for signs of ageing.
Harmful UVA rays are present throughout the year, even on days that don’t look particularly sunny. They can also pass through glass windows.
Is the Sun Bad For You?
This has been the topic of discussion between dermatologists for years and the answer is not a simple one. The amount of damage sun can cause on your skin has many factors associated with it.
Sun exposure is not necessarily a bad thing – in fact it has a lot of benefits for your wellbeing.
The Benefits of Sunshine
- It boosts your Serotonin levels. Serotonin is your body’s natural happy hormone. Many people see their mood lift as the weather improves and sunshine has also been shown to help with the symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
- It stimulates the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for a lot of body’s functions, including absorption of Calcium for healthier bones. Our diets alone can't give us enough Vitamin D but spending around 10-15 minutes in the sun can boost the production and provide you with the right levels.
- It decreases the levels of Melatonin in your body. Melatonin is responsible for the energy and your sleeping cycle. Lower melatonin levels can help regulate your energy levels, help you stay awake longer and wake up easier in the morning.
- It can stimulate the production of White Blood Cells. These fight off a lot of viruses and infections and so sunshine helps boost your immune system.
- It can improve skin conditions. Conditions such as Psoriasis, Eczema and Acne have been shown to improve with UV exposure, to the extent that UV exposure is now prescribed in the UK and many other countries as a treatment under the right supervision.
This means that whilst there is a very real risk of Skin Cancer, as well as other more superficial concerns like ageing if you do not take precautions, there are real health benefits to some time in the sunshine.
This means that to get the most from the sun, you need to protect yourself. We will be talking in more detail about sun protection but the basics are:
- Keep yourself protected with a broad spectrum SPF, every day.
- Avoid spending time in extreme sun, like in the middle of the day.
- Cover up on very sunny days, with long sleeves and loose layers.
If you have any further questions or would like more information about being sun safe, you can always email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worried you might already have signs of sun damage or Melanoma? I’ve explained what warning signs to look out for.