Some exposure to the sun is healthy for everyone. The sun is the primary source of vitamin D for the world, which is necessary for better calcium absorption and preventing depression. Too much sun, or failure to properly protect the skin can cause skin damage, eye damage and in some cases skin cancer.
The UVA rays of the sun are the cause of skin cancer and premature aging. The sun’s UVB rays are the cause of burns, cataracts and immune system damage. The sun also has UVC rays, but these do not reach the earth because of the ozone layer.
How the Skin Reacts to the Sun
The skin’s reaction to the sun is caused by a chemical called melanin. Melanin helps to protect the skin. The amount of melanin in people’s skin varies depending on skin tone. People with a fair skin tone have much less melanin than people with dark skin.
Fair-skinned people are most likely to get burns and are at a higher risk of skin cancer. When people get a tan on their skin from the sun, this is caused by sun damage. The more time spent in the sun, the darker the tan gets. Too much sun can cause burns and even blistering.
Sun Safety Tips for Children
To prevent sunburn, parents should always be sure that children are wearing a sunscreen of at least SPF 30. It is recommended that children stay indoors between 10 am and 2 pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
If families must be outside during this time, it is important to try to stay in the shade. The heat of the sun can also cause dehydration from sweating, so parents and children should drink lots of water when out in the sun. Sun hats and sunglasses are important to protect the eyes from sun damage.
Sunscreen to Prevent Sun Burn and Damage
A sunscreen of at least SPF 30 should be used for children. Parents should be sure that sunscreen is applied to the entire body, even areas covered by clothes as clothing does not protect from the sun’s rays. The sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapplied throughout the day. If children are swimming, sunscreen should be reapplied upon leaving the water.
The sun causes serious damage if safety measures are not used. Skin cancer and serious burns can be prevented with the right sunscreen. The sun can also cause overheating, which can lead to heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
Nausea, vomiting, fainting and delirium are signs of either of these problems and need immediate medical attention. If a child has a fever, trouble looking at light or has an infected sun burn parents should also contact the family doctor.