sun girlAll ultraviolet rays in sunlight - both U V A and UVB - are harmful to the skin, and the amount of damage depends on the length of time you stay unprotected in the sun. Long exposure to the sun may inflame your skin and cause it to swell. Even longer exposure results in burning, with blistering and peeling, and possibly heatstroke, which causes the temperature-regulating mechanism of your body to give up, which can make you very sick. For more on heat stroke, see the First Aid section.
Of course the most serious danger of sun tanning is the risk of skin cancer, which is higher in pale-skinned people. As you know, skin cancer has increased significantly in the last few years and this is almost entirely due to our obsession with a tan. Sunblocks are a necessity.
Another long-term hazard is wrinkles, which are caused by the sun destroying the collagen in the skin. A suntan ages the skin and there's nothing you can do to reverse it. Instead, protect your skin with the sunscreens in strong sun light. If you really must get a tan, use common sense and learn all you can about sun screens. Tan gradually over a period of time, with short session of exposure to the sun and use at least a number 15 or 20 SPF . BUT, no amount of tanning is safe for your skin.
(May 2003, update: I tanned a lot as a teen and into my twenties. I have had 4 precancerous lesions removed from my face (luckily no scars were formed). The dermatologist said it was from all those years of the sun, I didnt use a sunscreen then). Save your skin now and it will look good for life. Later in that same year I had developed skin cancer on a small spot on my face from years of tanning. I have a small scarred area there now forever to remind me.
Why using a sun screen
Sunscreens block the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun. You will find that each sunscreen has an sun protection factor (SPF) which is equal to the amount of time you can stay in the sun without burning. So, if you are sitting in the sun for 10 minutes, and you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 10, you can sit in the sun for 10 X 10 minutes without burning. Very pale-skinned people should use a very high SPF or a total sunblock.
Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 every day, even on cloudy days and when you don't plan on spending much time outdoors. Make sure the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays (referred to as "broad-spectrum" sunscreen). If you are going to be outside for a while, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. If you'll be in the direct sun, wear a sunscreen with a higher SPF, like SPF 30. If you'll be playing sports, make sure the sunscreen is waterproof and sweat-proof.
The sun's rays are strongest between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Avoid spending a lot of time outside, during this time period without wearing a sunscreen.
When you can, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants or skirts, and a hat with a brim. Okay, youill look like a geek and be hot in the sun, but you will not burn.
Wear sunglasses that provide almost 100% protection against ultraviolet radiation.
Reflective surfaces such as snow and water that can increase the amount of UV radiation to which your skin is exposed.
Be aware that certain medications, such as antibiotics, some antidepressants and medications used to treat acne, can increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if your medications might have this effect on you.
The color of you skin is determined by the amount of melanin it contains. This substance called melanin protects the skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays. A tan is visible proof that your skin is being damaged. When the ultraviolet radiation of the sun hits your skin, it stimulates cells known as melanocytes, which make the brown pigment called melanin. The melanocytes respond to the sun by making even more melanin to protect your skin from the sun. The melanin acts sort of like a barrier for the skin's cells and can give people the brown tint that is a suntan. We can't possibly tell you that getting a tan is safe, when it is not. Here as some examples of skin colors:
If you have fair-skin, your hair is light-colored or red, your skin is fair, and it is always hard for you to tan. (Sometimes freckled.) You tend to burn easily and quickly.
Your skin, hair and eyes are all brown or dark brown. You tan quickly without burning.
Your skin, hair and eyes are very dark and you don't burn easily. Black skin can burn in strong sunlight.
Knowing your skin type will help you decide how long you can safely expose yourself to the sun without burning. If you have dark skin, you will be able to stay out longer than someone with pale skin, and you will burn less easily.
Long term effects of the sun
Melanin can only protect your skin so much. If you continue to be exposed to the sun, the UV radiation can eventually damage your skin. That damage shows up on fair-skinned and olive-skinned people as:
brown age spots
blotchiness and uneven skin tone
sagging skin that looks older than it is
AND MORE WRINKLES and brown age spots too!
First Aid For Sunburns
Symptoms of sunburn usually appear within a few hours after exposure, and up until 24 hours after exposure and peak within 2 to 3 days.
sun batherMost sunburns are first-degree burns that cause the skin to become red, warm and tender to the touch. Second-degree burns are a more serious burn and can cause severe swelling, reddening, pain and blisters. Blisters are a sign that the burn has gone deeper than just the surface layer of the skin and has caused damage and the release of fluids from the cells in the lower layers of the skin. This results in bad blisters and breaks in the skin where bacteria and other organisms can enter. This is not a good situation and a person with a burn this badly should get some medical attention. For info on Sunburn First Aid...
when a large area has been exposed, a sunburn can cause headache, fever, nausea, and fatigue
Take a cool bath or shower.
Apply an aloe Vera lotion several times a day, many have lidocaine which will numb the pain.
Leave water blisters intact to speed healing and avoid infection. If they burst on their own, remove skin fragments, then apply an antibacterial ointment on the open areas. Cover with a sterile gauze bandage.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen.
Drink plenty of fluids, sunburn dehydrates the body. Eating high protein food will help with tissue repair.
Consider a product containing benzocaine (an anesthetic). Topical anesthetics can cause allergic reactions in some people -- not very common.
If your sunburn begins to blister or if you experience immediate complications (rash, itching or fever), call your health care provider.
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