Sunbathing is an integral and much loved part of most people’s holiday but recent reports of over exposure to the sun causing skin cancer have made many people wary of spending too much time in the sun. However paradoxically the over use of sun screens can actually have health problems in itself and under exposure to the sun can also be detrimental to our well being. Too much high factor sun block can delay sunburn, which is of course an important reminder that you have had too much sun, and in addition it can block the bodies manufacture of vitamin D which in itself helps to protect us from skin, breast and prostate cancer and is invaluable for boosting the immune system in general. Vitamin D also offers us protection against osteoporosis and sunlight can, believe it or not, play a part in lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Another danger with using sunscreen is due to the fact that they tend to only screen the UVB rays which cause the sunburn and not the UVA ones which actually inflict the cancer causing damage. Therefore people mistakenly feel protected but in fact end up putting themselves at great risk as is evidenced by the continued growth in malignant melanoma, skin cancer, despite increased use of sunblock creams It is important therefore that we shouldn’t all get a sun phobia as it does plays a vital part in both our physical and mental welfare and a certain amount of time spent in the sun will do us alot more good than harm.
As mentioned sunlight is important for the production of vitamin D, it also plays a role in the production of melatonin which controls our sleep patterns amongst other things, so a lack of sunlight can lead to insomnia. Melatonin also plays an important part in building a healthy immune system and can help protect against cancer.Serotonin, the good mood hormone, is likewise produced in the body in the presence of sunlight.
Sunlight deprivation can also lead to Seasonal Effective Disorder which leaves you feeling fatigued and depressed. We all know how a sunny day lifts our spirits and makes you feel all is right with the world but it is important to be sensible in our exposure to it.
So in order to be able to enjoy the sun when on holiday follow these practical guidelines to safe sunbathing:-
- Avoid exposure during the midday hours and don’t stay in it for too long if it is very fierce.
- Choose a sun cream with added vitamins and minerals, apply it 30-60 minutes before exposure and re-apply often. Added nutrients which have been found to be of particular benefit are vitamins C and E along with the minerals selenium and zinc.
- Take supplements such as vitamins C,D,E and Beta-carotene and the minerals selenium,calcium and zinc.These will give your sunscreen a boost and help to prevent skin damage.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, flavenoids and carotenoids, all of which are essential for a healthy skin and are good healing agents too.
- Drink green tea, this has recently been found to be of benefit to prevent burning if drunk whilst sunbathing, it can also be soothing if applied topically to sunburn.
If after all your efforts at safe sunbathing you still end up sun burnt here are a few natural remedies that may help:-
- Aloe Vera, this has a lovely cooling effect on the skin and is good to apply every time you come out of the sun.
- Lavender Oil, mix a few drops of lavender oil with almond, wheatgerm or sunflower oil, it is good for the relieve of sunburn along with other minor burns and scolds.
- Calandula is another herbal remedy that helps to reduce inflammation and is very soothing to sunburnt skin.
- Baking Powder is an old household remedy that can help to sooth sunburn.Dissolve a 16oz. box in a lukewarm bath and soak for half an hour. Alternatively you can mix to a thick paste and add topically.
Be sensible, enjoy the sun for your mental and physical health but at the same time adopt these safe sunbathing tips.