Protect Yourself from Sun Exposure

Edited by Debbie, Charmed, Eng, Rebecca M.

Martin, a fair skinned man from Northern Europe, had fallen asleep in the shade of a beach umbrella on the Italian coast. When he woke up his legs were no longer white, but an angry red. He had to go to the hospital emergency room. He said his legs were very swollen and stiff. The next three days he was in terrible pain. He could not stand or bend his legs. The skin was so tight, he thought it would burst!

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Many believe that only light skinned people need to fear the exposure to sunlight. Darker people do have greater protection against sunburn, but they still can develop skin cancer. And it often goes undetected until it reaches a dangerous stage. Other things that can harm us while out in the sun are damage to the eyes and our immune system, troubles that may not happen until years after the damage is done. The level of UV radiation is higher the closer one gets to the equator. Those living in the tropics or the subtropics and those traveling to those areas, should take extra precautions. A reason for doing this is that the atmosphere's protective ozone layer has reportedly become thinner in recent years. Let's look at some of the dangers caused by overexposure to the sun.

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As many as 15 million people earth wide are blind because of cataracts, the world's primary cause of blindness. They form when proteins in an eye's lens unravel, tangle, and build up pigments that makes the lens of the eye appear hazy. Cataracts are one of the long-term effects of being exposed to UV radiation. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of them are caused or worsened by chronic sun exposure. Sadly, the so called cataract belt near the equator includes developing countries where the majority of people are in poverty. Millions in Africa and Asia are blind because they can't afford to have surgery to remove cataracts.

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One third of all cancers diagnosed worldwide are skin cancers. Some 130,000 cases of melanoma, the most dangerous form, are reported each year. How is sunlight damaging to you? The most common and best known acute effect of overexposure to the sun is erythema. Its immediate effects can last for days and may include blistering and peeling. When this occurs, UV radiation kills most of the cells in the outer layer of the skin and damages deeper down in deeper. Any change in the color of a person's skin as a result of exposure is a sign of injury. Cancer can happen when harm comes to the DNA of genes that control the growth and division of skin cells. Sunlight changes the texture and weakens its pliability. This leads to premature wrinkling and sagging, as well as bruising.

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Studies have shown when the skin absorbs too much UV radiation the actions of certain parts of a person's immune system are badly affected. This may reduce the body's ability to defend itself against some diseases. Moderate sun exposure has been known to add to the risk of bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. People have noticed persistent eruptions of cold sores, or herpes simplex. We need to take action to protect ourselves for our health.

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Steps to Shield Ourselves From the Sun

  1. 1
    Try to stay in the shade.
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  2. 2
    Cover your arms and legs with loose fitting clothes.
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  3. 3
    Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your face.
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  4. 4
    Wear good quality wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes.
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  5. 5
    Use and reapply every two hours, a broad spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
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  6. 6
    Since sunlamps, beds, and tanning parlors use UV radiation, which may harm the skin, WHO recommends avoiding them.
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  7. 7
    Be careful to protect babies skin.
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  8. 8
    Never fall asleep in the sun.
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  9. 9
    If you develop a mole, freckle, or a spot that you are concerned about, see your physician.
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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Skin Care & Diseases

Recent edits by: Eng, Charmed, Debbie

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