METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Having a sunburn can be an unpleasant experience. The skin can itch for days. The skin could peal
if the sunburn is bad enough. Touching the skin will hurt. A bad sunburn is one of those experiences
you do not want to happen again. Learn your lesson from it and through prevention do not let it
happen again. If you do get a sunburn there are products you can buy that can reduce the pain.
Different people have different adaptability to the sun. Skin pigment is one way through evolution the
body controls how much sunlight penetrates the skin. Those with a darker skin pigment can handle
longer periods in the sun. Through
evolution it is peoples that live in high sun angle areas such as the equatorial regions that
have darker skin. Peoples that evolved in high latitude regions such as closer to the poles have lighter skin
to allow the skin to absorb more sunlight. The body needs a certain amount of sunlight. When a lighter
skin person moves to or visits a more equatorial like climate they can experience a severe sunburn or
sun shock if they are not careful in the sun.
Another defense mechanism the body has against the sun is tanning. As a tan darkens it allows less
sunlight to penetrate the skin. In effect, tanning is temporarily having a darker skin pigment. The body
has this defense because too much sunlight will damage the skin and health problems can result. The problem
is that some people overdo the tanning and end up burning the skin. The bodies defenses against the
sun are weakest when you have not been in the sun for a long time. For example, suppose you go all
winter and early spring without getting much sun and then you go swimming outside for several hours
during the heat of the day in the middle of spring. Since the skin has had no chance to build up
any kind of tanning resistance, a severe sunburn can result quickly under these conditions.
Protection from excessive sun is important. Skin damage will occur over the long-term due to
excessive sunlight because the high energy wavelengths damaging the skin cells. Sunburns can create
problems later is life such as wrinkling, pigmentation markings, leathery skin, increase freckling and skin
cancer. The good news is that the prevention of sun damage to the skin is very easy. Below are
1. If outside for a prolonged period in the sun wear clothing that covers the skin. For a hat
wear one that covers over the neck and ears. If you can not wear a hat then put sunblock on. Cover
all exposed skin with sunblock. If you will be swimming outside make sure the sunblock is
water resistant. Follow sunblock instructions for how often sunblock needs to be applied.
2. Do not use tanning beds or lay out in the sun without the assistance of a medical professional
to assess a safe amount of exposure for your skin type. It is erroneously thought that a tan is
healthy and protects you from sunburn. In actuality, a tan results from your body defending
itself against further damage from UV radiation. A tan does somewhat protect you from the sun, but a
tan over white skin acts only as a weak sunscreen. A tan may look beautiful, but
that does not mean the skin is healthier than non-tanned skin.
3. Stay out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods. There are certain events which are easy to
get a sunburn at such as sporting events, outdoor swimming, picnics and hiking. This is because prolonged
sun exposure is required. In that case make sure to have sunblock or clothes covering the skin, a hat
and UV protection sun glasses.
4. A chance for a sunburn is greatly reduced when the sun is low on the horizon. The early morning
and late afternoon are the best time for sun exposure. During the middle of the day when the
sun is high in the sky is the time of the day sunburn will occur quickest.
5. Do not sun-shock the skin. Sun-shock occurs when the skin has no tolerance to high levels of sun
light (such as laying out in the sun after not exposing yourself to the sun for several months). Sunburns
occur more quickly when the skin has not been exposed to the sun for several months. Begin the
exposure to the sun in small time doses, and increase the exposure time over the course of a
few weeks so the body can build better resistance to the sun
In conclusion, deal with sun exposure wisely. Use all the tools available to you to prevent a sunburn.