What are The Effects of Sunburn?
The best known types of ultraviolet sunlight are UVA and UVB. Too much exposure to either of these rays will damage your skin. Not only will overexposure cause wrinkles and brown spots, prematurely aging the skin, but it can also have far more serious consequences such as skin cancer.
The effects of sunburn and sunstroke are unpleasant – as anyone who has experienced it will know. Short term exposure may result in painful burning and reddened and peeling skin. Sunstroke is more serious: it dehydrates the sufferer and can cause high temperatures, vomiting and headaches.
But the most devastating side effect is undoubtedly skin cancer. It is estimated that 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 60% of melanoma skin cancers (the more serious form) are caused by over exposure to the sun. Worryingly, melanomas are not just caused by prolonged and consistent over exposure: any episodes of sunburn, no matter how infrequent, also increase the risk due to the damage this does to your skin cells.
How Can I Prevent Sunburn?
Whilst everyone should take precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the sun, there are some group of people who are more at risk than others:
- People with fair complexions and fair or red hair.
- People who work outdoors.
- Children: the amount of sun exposure is thought to be linked to the probability of developing skin cancer in adulthood.
The good news is that sunburn and sunstroke is entirely preventable: you simply need to take sensible precautions and be aware of the damage that the sun can do to your body.
- In hot places or during a hot day, stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when it is at its fiercest.
- Cover up: wear a hat to protect your face and neck – the areas most commonly damaged by the sun; and wear loose clothing. Be aware that wet clothing lets through more UV rays than dry.
- Use a good sunscreen with a minimum of SPF (sun protection factor) 15. Apply before going into the sun and reapply frequently throughout the day. Ensure the lotion you choose blocks UVA and UVB rays and be aware that products have a limited shelf life. No sunscreen can completely protect you from the effects of UV rays.
- Keep babies and small children out of the sun completely if possible.
- Do not wash yourself with soap all the time. Soap removes the oil from the skin that is there to keep it supple and resilient. Ingest good quality omega 3 oils preferably together with broad spectrum (water and lipid soluble) antioxidants.
- Taking aloe vera capsules, such as Aloeride® before and during a holiday much helps the skin to stand up to a sudden change in sunlight exposure; it can also help to rejuvenate the skin following exposure. Is there reasonable proof that aloe vera can help over-exposure to sunburn beyond empirical evidence that since time immemorial people used aloe vera for this? Other than the extensive research on burns, there is good quality research on the anti-ageing effect and effect on UV light exposure by Danhof, McKeown, Strickland and Yagi. But be aware, not all aloe vera products will give you the necessary molecules that help your skin to stand up to UV light or not enough of them.