Dr Jack A T Edmonds MB BS FRCGP

Private General Practitioner

Your Health in Our Hands

120 Harley Street
London
W1G 7JW

Phone: 020 7935 5050
Fax: 020 7935 3888
Email: enquiry@drjackedmonds.co.uk

STAY SAFE IN THE SUN

 – know the dangers

Sun exposure is good to a point but MUST BE LIMITED. 10-20 minutes a day is good and provides a vital boost to our bodies to produce vitamin D which is required for healthy bones, tiredness and mood.   It helps to regulate blood sugar, benefits the skin, lowers blood pressure and reduces inflammation in our immune system.  It also makes us feel happy.  Vitamin D can only be made for the first 30 minutes of exposure. 

UVB rays are only strong enough from April to October between 1030 and 1600 to make vitamin D and cannot penetrate through glass.  Women over 50 have skin which is less effective at turning UVB into vitamin D and interestingly their kidneys are less efficient at converting the vitamin D that the body can use.   It is therefore recommended that a daily supplement of 400iu of Vitamin D3 is taken all year round.   Lifestyle also plays an important role – the higher your BMI the more vitamin D you need.   It goes without saying that children need to also get their dose of healthy sunshine.  Getting out and about is crucial for their overall health and well-being.   Laying down the foundations for a healthy lifestyle for a brighter future cannot be stressed enough.  

So what do we know about UVA versus UVB?   UVA is the one that Ages skin and UVB is the burner.   A for age and B for burn – it’s easy! So far!  In brief UVA tans but penetrates deep into the skin triggering DNA damage and accounts for 80% of skin ageing.  UVA cannot make vitamin D in the skin and CAN pass through glass and clouds.  UVB on the other hand triggers Vitamin D production but also cause the Burn which varies by season, location and time of day.   Obviously levels are at their peak when the sun is at its highest.

Protection – For children absolutely vital!  It is reported that just one blistering sunburn in childhood or teens more than doubles a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.  We are being warned all the time of the link between the sun and skin cancer not to mention sunbeds.  Vitamins A,C and E are antioxidants helping to increase sun protection and counter free radicals.   Select sunscreens with these ingredients and an SPF factor of at least 30 and 50 for children.   Cancer Research UK recommends 4 stars rating for UVA protection.  Look out also for protection against IRA (infra-red rays) which also age the skin as they penetrate even more deeply than UVA and UVB.  When applying sun cream remember the back of the neck, the ears, temples and backs of hands and apply liberally to the whole exposed body.  Best applied indoors 15-30 minutes prior to exposure.   Up to 60% of protection can be lost if applied in direct sunlight!  Remember to reapply after taking a dip or perspiring and keep it in the shade.  A water resistant sun cream will retain at least 50% of its SPF protection after 40 minutes in the water which is why a further application is required.   

And finally what if you do get burnt?  Aloe Vera gel is very effective in cooling the skin together with ibuprofen at the first sign of sunburn to reduce inflammation.   If skin in blistered see a doctor.  

Happy holidays – Oh and don’t forget your sunhat!

News - BBC Health