Be sure to cover areas which are sometimes missed, such as the lips, ears, around the eyes, neck, scalp particularly if you are bald or have thinning hair , backs of hands and tops of feet. You should not think of sunscreen as an alternative to avoiding the sun or covering up. It is used in addition. Sunscreens should not be used to allow you to remain in the sun for longer - use them only to give yourself greater protection. Sunblock is different to sunscreen. Sunblock is opaque and stronger than sunscreen. It is able to block most UVA and UVB rays, owing to the ingredients it contains usually titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
As with sunscreen, you should not consider sunblock as an alternative to other strategies for protecting the skin against the sun's harmful rays.
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The index is given as a figure in a triangle over the maps they use when giving forecasts. Basically, the higher the index from 1 to 10 , the greater the risk from the sun, and the more care you should take of your skin when outside. It is probably a good idea to use sun protection when the UV index is forecast to be 3 or higher. Vitamin D is vital for good health. Vitamin D is made in the skin with the help of sunlight.
Sunlight is actually the main source of vitamin D, as there is not enough found in the foods that we eat. This means that to be healthy you need a certain amount of sun exposure.
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There is concern that some people may go to the extreme of avoiding the sun altogether and then become deficient in vitamin D. The aim is to enjoy the sun sensibly, so as to make enough vitamin D, whilst not increasing the risk of skin cancer. It is estimated that, to prevent deficiency of vitamin D, we need sun exposures per week in the summer months April to September. Each exposure should last minutes and be to bare arms and face.
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Short frequent periods of time in the sun are much more beneficial than long periods of time. It needs to be exposure to direct sunlight and not through a window. It is not the same as suntanning, and sunburn should be avoided at all costs. See the separate leaflet called Vitamin D Deficiency for more information. It is recommended that fair-skinned people who avoid the sun rigorously to reduce the risk of skin cancer, should consider supplementing their intake of vitamin D.
You should discuss this with your doctor to be sure you are not taking too much vitamin D, which may cause harm. Most people can store enough vitamin D in the summer to last them through the winter months when the sun is not strong enough for the skin to make vitamin D. However, many people spend too much time indoors in the summer, and others do not store vitamin D well enough so they may become deficient in vitamin D through the winter. Since , Public Health England has recommended that everyone consider taking a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D through the winter.
Those who have darkly pigmented skin, or whose skin is rarely exposed to the sun, should consider taking a supplement all year round. Sunlight tends to improve our general well-being and make us happier. It does this by causing us to produce more of a 'happy hormone' called serotonin. Physical activities and exercise outdoors are good for us, and we need to balance that against our wish to avoid skin damage and skin cancer. The way to balance the good and bad effects of the sun is to enjoy the sun safely. This means using all the tips above.
So enjoy being out in the sun when it is not so strong. Have short times out in the sun, rather than spending a long time exposed to it, especially in the hotter times of the day and year. When you have to be out in the middle of the day, use protection such as sun creams, hats, clothing and shade. If you want a tanned skin, consider a fake tan cream.
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Mead MN ; Benefits of sunlight: a bright spot for human health. Environ Health Perspect. Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.
Burnt Sunshine by Estelle Pinney
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