How to know how much sun is too much?
Sunbathing, with all the due attention, is good for the health since in this way the body can produce and storage the vitamin D also for winter time! But how to know if the sun that we are taking is too much and there is the risk of sunburns? In fact, even if we apply sunscreens, it is always better to avoid the hours of the day with a high level of UV rays. UV rays are indeed the component of sun rays responsible of tanning but also of sunburns, photo-aging of skin and cell damages. For this reason, a help may come from the article published by the Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), Cologne, Germany.
We don’t have any idea about the quantity of UV rays that are hitting us because the heat isn’t a good indicator. Indeed, the heat is given by the infrared component of sun rays and not by UV rays, therefore, even if there is fresh weather UV rays may be present. A good indicator, instead, is that the higher the sun in the sky the more UV rays on earth, for this reason at midday a peak of UV rays is registered. But this is also true for the geographical position, in general, the closer to the equator the higher the quantity of UV rays. Also in the mountain the amount of UV rays will be higher, thick clouds, but not the thin, may reduce the UV rays. A good idea could be to have a look at the weather forecast for your place that indicates also the index of UV rays in order to have an idea about the intensity of these rays and the risk of burning the skin. The index goes from 0, that means low intensity and therefore low risk, to 11, the highest risk.
However, the skin is able to defend itself. Beyond the sunscreens, that should always be applied when we intend to sunbathe, the skin, when exposed gradually to sun in the hours with a low UV index, becomes thicker and may help protect from sunburns. In general, people with grey or blue eyes, light skin with freckles and red hair can expose unprotected to sun until 10 minutes without getting a sunburn, people with light skin and blond or brown hair and blue eyes until 30 minutes, people with olive-colored skin, dark brown eyes and hair until 50 minutes, people with dark brown or black skin, dark brown eyes and black hair even a little more than 60 minutes. These are, of course, general indications that don’t take into account the geographical position but are able to give an idea of the ability of the different types of skin to protect from sun. But these indications let us also to understand that the capacity of the skin to defend itself from UV damages is limited and has to be helped with all the tools we have at our disposal, from diet to sunscreens and also the choice of the sunbathing hours in a day.