Summer is the time for going outdoors and enjoying the sun and some daily sun is even good for our health and well-being. However, over the past decades, doctors have become increasingly aware of the risks people take when going out in the sun without protecting themselves. There is ultraviolet radiation from the rays of the sun which can damage one’s skin including sunburn, premature aging such as wrinkling and age spots; permanent, sometimes blinding, damage to the eyes; and melanoma and skin cancer. In addition, many people take certain drugs on a daily basis that make them extremely sensitive to the sun. Doctors everywhere, particularly in the United Kingdom, believe that people need to be educated about sun protection so as to stop the epidemic of diseases related to the sun, especially skin cancer.
You can still enjoy the sun as long as you take measures to stay safe and protect yourself. One of the first measures is to use sunscreens. Sunscreens typically contain a mixture of ingredients that both absorb ultraviolet radiation and reflect or block ultraviolet radiation away from the skin and are available in creams, mousses, lotions and moisturizers.
The strength of sunscreens is measured by SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, and determines their protection against ultraviolet radiation. Sunscreens with SPF 15 protect against 93 per cent of ultraviolet radiation while those with SPF 30 offer 97 per cent protection. Sunscreens should be applied all over the body 20 minutes before going out and every two hours while out in the sun.
In addition, Public Health England recommends that the best time to go out in the sun is before 11:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m. as those four hours between them are when the sun’s rays are most powerful. The PHE also has nine broadband UV instruments networked across the UK which provide UV index graphs which are operated on a real-time daily basis and can be selected for specific cities in the UK.
Another new concept in sun safety is sun protection clothing. Regular summer clothes tend to let in a great deal of ultraviolet radiation and also tend to expose a lot of skin to sun. Sun protection clothing typically covers more skin than regular summer clothing but is also cool and comfortable to wear. It provides constant protection from ultraviolet radiation and does not wear off during the day. It is much less messy than sunscreen which can be an added bonus for mothers of young children.
There are also umbrellas that are used for the sole purpose of sun protection and have a denser weave than umbrellas used for the rain. They are also usually lined on the inside with a dark fabric to help with the absorption of ultraviolet radiation as well.
In addition to direct ultraviolet radiation, there is indirect ultraviolet radiation which occurs when the sun’s rays are reflected off surfaces such as water, sand, white paint on buildings, or concrete. So, even if you use an umbrella at a beach, you could still be getting burned from the ultraviolet radiation that is reflected off the water or sand. Therefore, you may need additional shading such as a canvas cabana on the beach to help block this indirect ultraviolet radiation. Try to find accommodations with awnings over windows as they cut down on heat levels in the interior of buildings and block ultraviolet radiation. The best ones are made of solid, outdoor roofing materials.
By following these measures and using the online tools provided, you can be sure you are taking the appropriate steps to avoid the risks of the sun yet still enjoy it.