Exposure to the sun is our primary source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital to our bodies, as it aids the absorption of calcium giving us stronger and healthier bones. However, unprotected exposure of our bodies to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause us health issues notably skin damage (basal and squamous cell cancers) and eye damage.
So, I thought I would take this opportunity to offer you a few reminders, of how to protect yourself whilst out enjoying your gardens and the sunshine.
Avoid the Strongest Rays (UV) of the Day
Avoid being in the sun when it is at its highest and thus the ultraviolet rays are at their most intense, this is normally from 10 am until 4 pm. Remember, even when it is cloudy and overcast, that ultraviolet rays can travel through clouds, will reflect off water, sand, glass, buildings and sidewalks etc. causing unexpected sunburn.
Cover up and protect your skin, loose fitting long sleeved shirts and long pants that are made from tightly woven fabrics offer great protection. Today, stores carry many lightweight garments and hats that have a UV protection shielding built into their fabric this helps prevent the sun s rays from reaching your skin. Wearing darker colors, may also offer more protection than lighter colors.
The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, this type is now often referred to as “broad-spectrum” sunscreen. Put on sunscreen before you go outside, ensure that you read the label before hand as some require an absorption time for greater protection. Activities that cause you to sweat will/may require reapplication of your sunscreen every 2 hours.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children regardless of their skin tone wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Although dark skin has more protective melanin and tans more easily than it burns, remember that tanning is also a sign of sun damage.
For the most protection, wear a hat with a large brim that provides shade for your face, ears, and the back of your neck. Consider a tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, which will offer better protection of your skin. If you wear a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and the back of your neck with sunscreen.
Wear Protective Eyewear
Exposure of the eyes to the sun can result in a burned cornea (the outermost, clear membrane layer of the eye). Increasing exposure can lead to cataracts later in life (clouding of the eye lens, which results in blindness) or melanoma of the eye and skin cancer around the lids.
Wearing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Wrap-around sunglasses offer the best shield to the eyes and also the tender skin around them.
Check Your Prescribed Medications
Some medications can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun s ultraviolet rays. Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist if any of your medication will cause you increased sun sensitivity. If so, always take extra precautions and any given medical advice to the latter to prevent problems occurring.
REMEMBER to consume fluid before you are thirsty, by the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
Have fun in the sun and garden and be well!!!