Summertime means the sun is out longer and stronger than any other time of year. For many folks, this means going outside, having fun, and enjoying the warmth before the cold months arrive. And hey, having some sunlight exposure is still the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
As fun as it is to spend time outside, especially after more than a year of practically being cooped up, you shouldn't go overboard on how much sun exposure you're getting.
More than just getting sun burnt, prolonged sun exposure can lead to many health risks, both short and long-term. Here are some of the reasons why you should be aware of sun safety.
The real danger to over-exposure to sunlight is over-exposure to the UV rays it emits. UV rays are the primary cause of skin damage. This damage causes early signs of skin aging like wrinkles, dry skin, and sunspots.
UV rays (short for ultraviolet rays) are the body's leading producer of skin free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that pretty much "suck" energy from healthy skin cells, which can cause damage.
A healthy body can usually fend this off. Still, over time and aging, our ability to fight UV ray-related skin damage becomes weaker, and chronic exposure leads to various health conditions.
If you're constantly exposed to UV rays, you're increasing the risks of also acquiring skin health problems that can go beyond skin-deep and adversely affect your body. Some examples include degenerative skin conditions, weakened immunity, and premature aging.
There is the feeling of simply being hot and experiencing heat stress, and the latter can be dangerous for our health. Heat stress can result in heat illnesses such as exhaustion, cramps, rash, and even heart problems. In the US, 11 Americans suffer from heat stress and heat illness each day, and most of them have jobs that require prolonged exposure to the sun.
Some symptoms of heat illness can range from headaches, nausea, irritability, and extreme thirst to high body temperature, profuse sweating, confusion, and even loss of consciousness.
Summer means we have to drink more water. When you are lying out on the beach or sitting poolside, water might not be your first beverage choice, but it's essential to make sure you are getting enough water. Our bodies are mostly made of water, and the summer heat can deplete our water supplies faster than expected. Drinking anything else may make it difficult for the body to run its everyday processes, especially those related to immunity and skin health.
You think dehydration is nothing to worry about, but more than half of Americans are almost always dehydrated. Even though they drink eight glasses of water, the water they take is offset by drinking caffeinated beverages, alcohol and eating a diet high in sodium - things that cause you to lose water.
Tanning is one of the most popular activities to do in the summer. It's so popular that we pretty much demanded the invention of the tanning bed, a device more than 35% of American adults use every year, so we can tan even when there's no sun. However, getting that reddish skin tone is not healthy for your body.
A tan is essentially how the body reacts to UV rays’ exposure. To put it bluntly, a tan is practically a layer of dead skin cells that are lost to UV rays. Tanning, therefore, increases the risk of getting skin health problems, especially as it's repeatedly causing skin cell death, and the body just isn't designed to repair that much skin damage every year.
You can still get your tan but put on sunscreen to help your skin fight off harmful UV rays.
Summertime is fun and an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outside world. However, it is not without its fair share of health risks, and your skin gets the brunt of it. By keeping sun exposure low, you are helping the body fight off harmful UV rays, premature skin aging, and heat-related illnesses.
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