Many of us enjoy basking in the sunlight during the warmer days. However, that glittery ball of fire in the sky can be detrimental to our fragile human skin. So here are some facts that could help keep your skin healthy this summer.

 

HOW WELL ARE YOU PROTECTED?

It is quite obvious that you would only apply sunscreen when you’re going out into the sun for the day, to the beach, a braai, hiking or swimming. Have you ever thought about those time when you’re driving to work or school, going out for lunch with a friend/colleague or when you’re at the office?

 

You are most vulnerable to UV rays when you don’t even realize it. Here are few eyeopener points that you should take into consideration the next time you step out:

• When it’s cloudy – not many people realize that they have been sunburnt even though it has been a fairly overcast day. About 80% of UV rays pass through clouds, causing damage to be much worse.
• During autumn and winter – UVB rays during winter are shorter. This is why we don’t get burnt so easily. UVA rays are the same regardless of what season we are in, causing skin damage during winter.
• While driving – Most windscreens have been treated with UVA and UVB protection, but the side and rear windows aren’t 100% protected. It’s advisable to get your car windows tinted, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen when driving.
• Through the window – whether being at home, at the office or at school, we manage to get sunburnt somehow. The glass around us can only block UVB rays, which leaves us exposed to UVA rays which cause ageing damage. Always remember to be conscious to sun protection no matter what environment you are in.

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HARMFUL UV RADIATION?

UV radiation is at its strongest between 10am and 4pm so it is wise to stay indoors or shaded areas (under a tree or any other shelter) during these times.
However, if you need to go out into the sun, use sun protective clothing. This includes clothes with: a tightly woven fabric structure which UV radiation won’t pass through very easily; light weight fabrics such as cotton, linen or hemp; thick layers which create a shield against UV radiation and dark colors which absorb UV radiation better than light colors. Furthermore, hats and umbrellas protect the skin on your face while dark sunglasses protect your eyes.

Practice the 5 S’s of Sun Protection:
1. Slip on protective clothing – the clothes you wear can be one of the most effective barriers between our skin and the sun.
2. Slop on sunscreen – Your sunscreen should be a minimum of SPF 30 or above and preferably water-resistant.
3. Slap on a hat – Your hat provides additional protection to the face neck, ears and scalp.
4. Slide on sunglasses – UV radiation from the sun can damage your eyelids, cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. Wear sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
5. Shade from the sun – Shade provides a good barrier between our skin and the sun, particularly during the hottest times of the day.

 

 

WHY IS SUNSCREEN IMPORTANT?
Sunscreen creates a barrier between the surface of your skin and UV radiation. The effectiveness of the sunscreen can be determined by its Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. When applying sunscreen it should be done 15 minutes before going outside so that it has enough time to be absorbed by the skin. It is important to note that sunscreen should be applied at 2 hour intervals especially if you are swimming or sweating excessively.

 

References:
https://news.psu.edu/story/141338/2010/06/01/research/probing-question-what-does-spf-rating-sunscreen-mean.
https://www.ehstoday.com/eye-face-head/shining-light-sun-safety-workplace. [Accessed 11 January 2019].
https://lamelle.co.za/sun-just-well-protected/. [Accessed 11 January 2019].
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection/sun-damage.html.
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection/what-is-uv-radiation.html.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3709783/.

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