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The Dangers of Sitting too Long out in the Sun
How much Sun is too Much?
Working in the orchard for hours at a time? Or might it be you working on your tan at the beach? You may have experienced it before. The itch, the pain, the redness and the restlessness when you are on your bed trying to get some rest are all symptoms of getting sunburn. Sunburns are the first indicator and warning sign to get out from under the sun as quick as possible.
How do you get sunburn? Simple, remain under the sun a little over an hour and experiment the uncomforting feeling. The scientific reasons behind it are a little more complex than that. The atmosphere possesses the ozone layer, which is in charge of fending off excess sunlight from the earth.
However, over time, the substantial increase in the amount of greenhouse gases imprisoned on earth and other factors have led to the deterioration of the ozone layer. The result of this is the easier access of the sun’s rays into the atmosphere. While that may have been a couple of decades ago to some it now poses a long-term threat to the health of most of mankind.
Most of the light spectrum is seemingly harmless to our skin health. This doesn’t mean that we are clear of danger. The damage to the ozone layer now permits a larger intake of UV light into the earth. The problem with UV light is not the fact that we can’t see it but the fact that it can alter our DNA and mutate it. This is due to the wavelengths of UV rays of light. They have a shorter wavelength making them exponentially deadlier the further away from A in the alphabet they are.
Types of UV
There are three types of UV light: UVA UVB and UVC. The most harmful of the three is, you guessed it: UVC. Fear not! UVC never enters our atmosphere therefore it does not pose any real threat. UVA and UVB do pose a threat and can damage your skin anyways. They do this by reaching your skin and altering the composition of your DNA and mutating it.
Your body’s natural reaction to the mutation is a process known as apoptosis. This process involves the suicide of your skin cells. Now, this is not always the norm. If that were the case we would be shedding our skin every other week. Melanin (found within in your skin cells) is in charge of absorbing the UV light and giving color to your skin. If your skin color is dark the chances of coming down from sunburn or other sun related ailments is reduced.
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If you are fair skinned don’t be alarmed. A healthy amount of tanning can help fend off and protect you from future sunburns as well as mutated skin cells because the melanin has already been released to protect you and absorb the UV rays. If your body is not able to manage the extensive amount of radiation you expose it to it will then come to it last resort: The sunburn.
You read that right. Sunburns are your body’s defense mechanism. Sunlight mutates skin cells but it is not what causes the redness or the tan. That is your body having a natural reaction to the excess amount of sunlight you take in. In order to remove the now dying skin cells your body sends a higher amount of blood to the affected regions. This brings about the redness as well the hot feeling and itchiness.
Blisters and other Skin Complications
If the amount of sunlight has indeed been excessive it may lead to blisters and other skin complications. Now, there are ways you can avoid getting nasty sunburns. These include:
- Wearing appropriate clothing; if you aren’t at the beach or tanning and don’t care much for heat wear loose light colored clothing and avoid polyester. If you’re working in the garden for more than an hour use a hat and to protect your head and neck from any excess sunlight. If you’re at the beach the following word of advice is for you. sun glasses
- Use sunscreen. Believe it or not it’s better than walking around half naked. Despite the fact that it may be sticky and it doesn’t have the most pleasant scent in the world sunscreen can rock your world and future you will be thankful you wore it. Get to know yourself a little. Test the limits of your skin and what brand of sunscreen works best for you. Trust me you can’t avoid the sunscreen.
- Know when it is too much and pull a Dracula. Depending on the time of the day, how close to the equator you are and the fairness of your skin you should be able to do the math. Find a decent shade and wait it out before you head out into the sunlight again.
If all is lost and you’ve finally come down with the red menace worry not. There are some ways to cool down a feverish sunburn at home and play it out to your advantage. For starters, take a bath with cool water. Don’t do really cold water because you will experiment the opposite outcome. When your body comes into contact with any extreme it fights it off. So if you use water that’s too cold your body will heat up to regain its ambient temperature.
Once that is out of the way use creams that will help soothe the itchiness. If you are not into chemicals and pharmaceuticals then you can go natural and apply some Aloe Vera on your skin. Why Aloe? It has analgesic and soothing properties. It probably doesn’t have the best smell on the planet but it does the job better than your average cream.
Are you still into using a cream?
Well some of my friends will actually put them in the fridge for a while to increase the soothing and cooling effect on the burn.
Now, here is a little disclaimer on excessive sunlight. Sunlight can increase the amount of wrinkles in the skin and the chances of contracting some form of skin cancer whether that is a benign one or a malignant one. Rock bottom to sunburns after a certain age and amount of exposure to sunlight is Melanoma. Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer product of the leakage of a mutated skin cell and its uncontrolled reproduction.
This disclaimer is not to pry you from the hands of the sun because the sun is healthy for you. Sunlight can keep you from being depressed and can also provide you and activate some vitamins that will aid in bone growth. The disclaimer is so that you may approach the sun in a careful manner. Remember, a little more skin cover and a good sun block (SPF15 and higher) will do the trick.
Remember to share the knowledge and go out and have some fun in the sun!
Article by: Alain Gutiérrez
How to Treat a Sunburn
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