Sun Exposure – It’s Not Just “The Big C” You Need to Think About

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We all know the major issues that sun exposure can cause – obviously skin cancer is the scariest one, but from a beauty point of view, the profound effect it can have on the ageing process is pretty worrying too. There are also other conditions which can be caused by time in the sun, that many of us don’t know about, so we’re highlighting five of them and telling you what you can do to prevent them:

Melasma

Many people think that melasma is only caused by pregnancy (it’s often referred to as ‘pregnancy mask’) but actually, men can develop melasma too. People with higher levels of melanin in their skin are particularly prone and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and the use of sun-beds or phototherapy can trigger melasma or make it worse. The best way to prevent melasma is with a sun block with a high SPF, or skin lightening treatments.

Cataracts

Long-term, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can damage the retina. The retina is the back of the eye, where the rods and cones make visual images, which are then sent to the visual centers in the brain. Damage from exposure to sunlight can also cause the development of cloudy bumps along the edge of the cornea, which can then grow over the cornea and prevent clear vision. UV light is also a factor in the development of cataracts. Wear proper UV eye protection to prevent this.

Heat Stroke

Many people think that heat stroke is something that makes us feel a little bit sick and dizzy after too much time in the sun, but actually heat stroke can be a medical emergency. Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, rapid heart rate and difficulty breathing. Avoid heat stroke by spending plenty of time in the shade and drinking lots of fluids.

Cramp

When your body sweats, it looses a lot of the natural salts that the body needs to be able to function properly, and when you rehydrate with only water, instead of an isotonic solution, these salts can be further depleted. This can lead to muscle cramps which can be painful and unpleasant. Avoid cramps and muscle spasms by eating a salty snack and getting plenty of rest in the shade.

Polymorphic Light Eruption

According to the NHS website “Polymorphic light eruption is a fairly common skin rash triggered by exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. An itchy or burning rash appears within hours, or up to 2 to 3 days after exposure to sunlight. It lasts for up to 2 weeks, healing without scarring. The rash usually appears on the parts of the skin exposed to sunlight – typically the head, neck, chest and arms. The face is not always affected.” A good sunscreen will prevent this from occurring.

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