The human body needs to receive direct sunlight to obtain vitamin D, which enables the absorption of calcium in bones. However, the time of sun exposure should be limited and done during suitable hours because of the the serious damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin and eyes.
The sun's rays are the main risk factor for skin cancer because they damage the DNA that allows the growth of skin cells. In the U.S., one person dies every hour from this type of cancer, which in most cases is the result of many years of exposure to the sun without protection.
The negative effect of solar radiation on the skin may not be so visible in young people, but with age spots begin to appear, as well as cancerous moles, called carcinomas, which may result in melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer of all.
UV rays also generate premature aging of the skin and eye damage such as cataracts, which cause clouding of the lens. This clouds one’s vision, and if not treated on time, can lead to blindness. Therefore, it is important to protect your skin and eyes daily from solar radiation.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and is responsible for protecting us from external factors such as temperature, bacteria and chemicals.
Melanoma: is the most serious cancer of all and causes more than 8,500 deaths annually in the United States. It usually appears as a mole or dark spot somewhere on the skin.
UV-A and UV-B rays: are those that manage to get through the ozone layer and reach the skin. The former affect the deeper layers of the skin, damaging the long term genetic material, causing wrinkles and increasing the risk of cancer. The latter impact surface layers, causing burns and carcinomas.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF): indicates for how long the sunscreen is slowing the negative effect of UV-A and UV-B rays on the skin. For example, a person with pale skin starts to burn ten minutes after sun exposure. If an SPF-15 ointment is applied before going outside, the negative effects start 15 times later, or 150 minutes after applied. However, factors such as sweat and water decrease its efficiency.
-All people, regardless of race or age, must apply sunscreen every day 30 minutes before going outside.
-If your work or daily activities require being in the sun for several hours, use sunscreen with minimum SPF-50 and reapply every two hours, as sweat and water diminish their effectiveness.
-Additionally, cover your head and neck with hats or caps, and cover your eyes with sunglasses.
-No matter the season or the weather, even if it's winter we must use sunscreen because we’re protecting ourselves from ultraviolet rays, not the temperature.
-If you're going out to the beach or pool, avoid doing so between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, as these are the times that the sun's rays are strongest.
-Look out for new spots or moles that appear on the skin. They can be carcinomas and even melanoma. Check with your doctor immediately if you find one.
-Whenever you go out in the sun, protect your eyes with sunglasses that provide UV protection to prevent eye damage.