About sunlight exposure
Direct sunlight can have beneficial effects (e.g. in vitamin D synthesis
which is good for your bone). However, the ultraviolet radiation of sunlight
can cause detrimental effects. There are two major components of ultraviolet
radiation, i.e. Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA triggers
skin reactions associated with certain medications (e.g. oral contraceptives,
some anti-malarials, etc.), and also plays a large role in the photoaging
process. UVB can cause damage to the skin (sunburn, skin cancer) and the
eye (snow blindness).
Signs and symptoms of sunburn
In mild cases :
- Red swollen, painful and sometimes blistered skin.
- Tanning or peeling of skin after recovery.
In severe cases :
- Mental disturbance.
- Body temperature > 38.5°C.
- Pain or fever for longer than 48 hours.
Prevention of Sunburn
- Travellers should avoid exposure to sun between noon and 3:00 p.m.
- Wear a loose-fitting, light-coloured hat with a wide brim.
- Protect the eyes by wearing good quality sunglasses, especially when
skiing or trekking in snow.
- Use a sun block with a sun protection factor (SPF) greater than 15.
SPF of fifteen means that for a given light condition it takes 15 times
longer to develop redness with the screen than without. Reapply after
swimming or sweating.
- Another alternative is to use a physical blocker such as Zinc-oxide
ointment. It offers maximum protection and must be reapplied frequently.
- If one wants to get a good sun-tan, sun exposure must be done slowly
and cautiously. For example, first day 5-10 minutes each side, second
day 10-15 minutes each side, then increase 5 minutes each side per day.
- Be extra careful if you are having oral contraceptive or taking doxycycline
for prevention of malaria.
- Apply moisturizing cream to reduce heat and pain.
- Do not puncture blisters because this increases the chance of wound
- Pat the skin dry; do not rub to avoid further damage.
- Use aspirin to reduce the pain and lower the temperature.
- Keep pressure off burned skin to help relieve pain.