Every year we look forward to our holiday season, especially the summer season. We need a vacation to escape, rest, travel, “recharge our batteries” until next year. Definitely the rest of the year, when we have some gaps in our work, we are looking for an opportunity to travel. However, summer vacations are what we are all looking for. In most parts of the world, summer is when most of us combine sun and sea or pool with rest and rejuvenation.
Summer has come… We are ready for the beginning of our vacation… We are looking forward to the time we will wear our swimsuits to enter the sea and/or the pool. So, when the time comes… Are we truly ready?
“Of course. What are we waiting for?”. Someone would ask… I don’t think we’re completely ready to face the sun. We are not properly prepared. And to be clear, we don’t have to wait until we go to the sun loungers. Nowadays, we need to pay attention to it! Let’s look at all the details and find out why…
Should I go out in the sun?
But of course, we have to go out in the sun. To be precise, it is not just good; it is beneficial! The sun is a source of joy, life, and health. Sunlight changes our psychology, revives our morale, acts as a natural antidepressant, as it activates the secretion of serotonin, also known as “the hormone of joy”, while thanks to the alternation of sunlight with darkness, production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, is regulated.
The sun is the one that strengthens our bones, helps with dermatological issues (when we are careful), and helps the heart. It is characteristic that in surveys conducted in countries with less sunshine during the year, they have increased rates of heart attacks! And let’s not forget that most of the goods it offers us are due to vitamin D, such as stress reduction, weight loss, sleep, flu…
CAUTION!!! What is not good is to be exposed to the sun without protection!!! Let’s not forget that 10-20 minutes of sun exposure, without sunscreen, is enough for our body to produce the required amount of vitamin D.
Why should I be careful when I go out in the sun?
Like everything else in the world, sun exposure has its downsides. Ultraviolet radiation is harmful to the skin, eyes, but also to our entire body. It is also especially important if we are taking medication that can affect us in the sun, such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, etc.
What are UV rays? Are they harmful to our body?
Ozone (or as much as we have left) retains a large percentage of the sun’s rays, preventing it from penetrating and reaching the Earth. UVA, UVB, and UVC rays are the three types of ultraviolet radiation. UVC rays are extremely dangerous, but they do not reach the Earth, because they are absorbed by the ozone of the stratosphere, while UVA and UVB rays reach and even affect the skin.
UVA rays are visible even when the weather is cloudy. They penetrate the clouds, the glass, and the skin. UVA rays can damage cells in the long run and cause photo-aging, sun allergy (redness, itching, multiform rash), pigmented disorders (chloasma, spots), and skin cancer.
Unlike UVBs, they do not cause pain and can penetrate very deeply, reaching the skin cells. They have very high energy and are blocked by clouds and glass. However, they can penetrate the skin. UVB rays are responsible for tanning, sunburn, allergic reactions, and skin cancers. Therefore, it is important to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
How can we protect ourselves?
The first and foremost thing we need to do to protect ourselves from the sun is to use sunscreen. Even the face creams we use must have sunscreen, even in winter! We need sunscreen with UVA – UVB protection filters, but also with a high protection index (SPF 30-50) for our optimal possible protection. Depending on the type of skin we have, we need to use the right sunscreen that will meet the needs of our skin. It is also useful to be water-resistant (there are no waterproof sunscreens), without this meaning that they do not need renewal!
Sunscreens can only show the “Broad-spectrum” if they have been tested and have been shown to protect against UVA and UVB rays. Only Broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher can state that they help protect against skin cancer and premature skin aging if used according to other sun protection measures.
Sunscreen should be used about 15 minutes before sun exposure, before entering the sea and after that, to renew it about every half hour and to apply it all over the body, from the ears to the soles of the feet. We need to pay attention to the expiration dates, in many cases we need to shake the package and do not leave them for long periods in a warm environment. We can make a beautiful and healthier tan, which will last longer and we will not have these particularly bad burns or the signs of peeling.
Skin is not the only thing we should protect. Our eyes are another part of our body that needs attention. So we need good quality glasses to protect us from various eye diseases. Glasses with “100% UV Protection” are the ones we should prefer for our protection from both dangerous types of UV. It is especially important that they remain free of scratches so that they can still fully protect us.
In our exposure to the sun, we also need a hat, in order to be completely protected from premature photo-aging and skin cancer. Even taller hats offer 360-degree protection from the sun. Many people do not know that the hat even under the umbrella is necessary, as it also protects us from the reflections of the sun on the water and the sand.
It is helpful when we go out in the sun to be dressed in light clothes, preferably light-colored and cottoned.
5. Water and hydration
We need to drink as often and as much water as possible, because this helps our body from dehydration, sunburn, or even heatstroke.
6. Umbrella / Shadow
Whether we are at sea or not, when we are outside we prefer the shade as an extra measure of protection in order not to be directly exposed to the sun. The umbrella on the beach, but also the trees or any other natural shade, can protect us from ultraviolet radiation. Let’s not forget the unpleasant consequences of sunburn or heatstroke.
7. Avoid dangerous hours
Lunch is the warmest and therefore the most dangerous. Of course, the hours that are most dangerous vary from country to country, but the rule remains the same: Avoid the sun during dangerous hours! We remind you that the sun is still dangerous even in the shade. Let’s not forget that not only the time you spend in the sun to tan is important, but also every time you spend outdoors for any activity. In addition, seasons have a special role to play because UVB depends on the season, time, and location.
8. Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotene (tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, melons, mangoes, and peppers) activate melanin, which is rich in antioxidants and protects us from the free radicals produced by UV rays. After all, fruits and vegetables are much more refreshing and light than many other foods and snacks and also fight fluid retention!
CAUTION! 20 minutes of exposure to UVA rays or a few minutes of UVB radiation causes molecular changes that take 3 days to correct.
How can we protect our children?
Children are more exposed to the sun, especially on the beaches and the sea, because they sit and play more time in the sun. That means that they need special attention, as they are more dangerous for burns and what we mentioned above.
Pay special attention to sunscreens with SPF50 and UVA and UVB protection, wear a hat, goggles, drink plenty of fluids, especially water and not soft drinks, and eat fruits and vegetables. We can also wear a light T-shirt on the beach, always with all the above protection measures. And pay ATTENTION to the hours we expose them to the sun! Most babies under 6 months of age should be kept in the shade and completely covered by the sun.
Do we need toprotect our pets?
And our pets can get sunburns. It’s tragic to see people take the pets for a walk during the midday heat. Of course, we love our animals, but maybe we should think about them a little more. They do not have the same temperature as us! Let’s not forget dehydration and heatstroke!
Is the solarium harmful to health?
Regardless of whether we have made a solarium or not, it is necessary to observe all the above protection measures. The lamps used for the solarium emit UVA, so the solarium can cause as much as natural tanning (photo-aging, increased risk of skin cancers). Statistics show that people who indulge in solarium are 2.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer, while recent research shows that when the first solarium is performed at a young age, the chance of developing melanoma increases by up to 75%. Did you know that tanning beds have enhanced UV lamps that emit doses of UVA radiation up to 12 times greater than the sun?
Attention and Protection is the diptych we need to remember! Follow what we have said and don’t worry; you will have done what is possible to achieve a high percentage of sun protection. Protect mainly the elderly, children, and animals. The sun is beautiful, it is a source of life, but it needs measure and attention. Enjoy the sun with protection and moderation, without having to regret it later!
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