Sun is showing no pity on us these days and we must bear its brunt for a few more months. At the same time, we should not stop taking steps to protect ourselves from the sun’s rays as prolonged exposure can cause sunburn, skin cancers (most common form of cancer), skin spots, wrinkles, eye damage and leathery skin. All of us have those friends and family members with sun damage who are too young to look too old at their age.
Though we Indians bear brown skin and are better protected from the sun due to increased concentrations of melanin, constant exposure to UV rays of the sun can cause skin cancer. While it is good to hear that we live in the tropics and hence, are better protected at the same time it is depressing to know that countries like India face increased rates of UV radiation.
It is natural to go out in the hot sun during summer, but it should be your second nature to protect yourself and your skin from the sun when you go out. General rule is that, people of all skin colors face the risk of skin cancer and early skin ageing. Prolonged exposure to sun causes the skin to turn red, irritate and burn. This is called a sunburn while tanning is the skin’s way of protecting itself from sun’s radiations by producing additional pigments that are hailed to protect the skin (often this is not the case) from damaging UV radiation.
Summer months are showing their true color and the tips given here can be extremely useful in protecting yourself against the scorching sun
Choose clothing wisely: Try to wear clothes that cover most part of your skin to prevent much exposure to the sun. Long-sleeved dresses, brim hats (these cover your face as well as much-ignored spots such as ears and scalp) and full pants are must-haves in your wardrobes this season.
Sunglasses should become your second eyes: Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays that can result in eye problems such as cataract. Choose glasses that block 99% or 100% UVA/UVB. Don’t falsely assume that dark-tinted glasses offer more protection from the sun. Even light-tinted ones such as green, amber, red and gray offer the same protection. Don’t pounce on costly glasses as pricey glasses don’t guarantee 100% protection. Choose ones that cover your entire eye and wear one even if you are wearing contact lens.
Restrict sun time: Plan your outside activities early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun’s radiations are not at their peak. Peak time includes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV rays are strongest. If you must go out during those hours, ensure to create or find shade. Sit under a tree if you are at the park, carry a beach umbrella at the beach or if it is one of those routine days, plan indoor lunch together or take a peaceful nap.
Tanning is bad: Say a strong ‘no’ to tanning and there is nothing called as ‘safe’ tanning. Indoor or outdoor, both increase your chances of skin cancer and skin damage. Avoid tanning beds, tanning booths and sunlamps that increase your exposure to intense UV radiation. This isn’t the time to whack your vitamin D levels to a perfect score and discuss about other sources of vitamin D best for your body with your doctor.
Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to all parts of your body, taking special care to apply it over your ears, nose, neck, hands, feet and lips. UV rays can damage your skin in less than 15 minutes and make it a point to apply sunscreen to every exposed body part at least 15 minutes before heading out. Rather than using it alone, when this is used in combination with other sun-protective measures as given above, you can see better results. Some factors to keep in mind before selecting a sunscreen include:
It is essential to safeguard the kids as much as we safeguard ourselves. Put on their best hats and glasses this summer. Natural is best. Rather than choosing to tan your skin, why don’t you choose a dress or lip blush that compliments your skin tone? Be happy about yourself and take good care of your skin all-year round.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.