By Dr. Sudip Bose, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
There are precautions you need to consider regarding exposure to the sun.
Let’s talk about sunburn. We love the sun; it provides us warmth, it helps nourish us and provide food, it literally provides us life on earth. Yet even though the sun provides us life itself, it can be like that big bully down the block. Consider, comparatively speaking that the sun compared to earth is like comparing a basketball to a raisin. The difference between the two is startling. We’ve got to watch out for it. It has enormous power.
But we have the tools to combat the sun’s harmful effects on us. Number one, we have sunscreens. Let’s say you go out in the sun, and you start to burn in about five minutes, just for example. If you have an SPF (or Sun Protection Factor) of 10, you get 1/10th of the arrhythmogenic ultraviolet photons – or 1/10th of those sun rays. That means, instead of burning in five minutes, you’ll get that minimal burn in 50 minutes. Just an SPF of 10 is a huge help.
A 4-ounce tube of SPF 10 sunscreen should not last you all summer. That 4-ounce tube should actually only last you the equivalent of two to four applications. And remember, you should put sunscreen on about every two hours and/or every time you come out of the water. And don’t forget the hard-to-reach spots on your back.
That’s a chemical sun screen. There also are physical sunscreens. Think of “slip, slop, slap.” To protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays as much as possible, you need to slip on a T-shirt or some sort of cover-up, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.
Tans might look sexy, but watch it. And the lobster look is not a good look at all. It’s not healthy at all.
You need to protect yourself from the UVA rays as well as the UVB rays of the sun. UVA are the rays that cause cancer; when you think of UVB rays, think “B” as in burns. So make sure you get a sunscreen that blocks both UVAs and UVBs. You need to apply it correctly and completely and supplement it with physical sunscreen barriers, like T-shirts or some other cover-up and hats to block the sun’s rays.
You also might hear about the sun providing Vitamin D, which is good for you. You have an inactive form of Vitamin D within you, and sunlight activates that Vitamin D. That’s good for our cardiovascular system our immunology system. You only need two to eight minutes of sunlight to get the right amount of Vitamin D. It may even be better to just take supplements and completely avoid the sun. You for sure don’t want to get melanoma as a result of sitting in the sun. That’s an extremely dangerous form of skin cancer.
Remember: pasty is now the new sexy.