As we enter the seasons of longer and warmer days, it’s only natural to want to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sunshine on our faces and the wind in our hair. Although that sounds like the ideal Saturday to many, knowing how much sunlight is safe is essential to planning out our days ahead.
Sunshine is vital to a healthy body but can also cause harm if we spend too much time beneath it. Vitamin D production is jump-started when we spend time in the sun, an excellent and essential boost that your body thrives on.
Conversely, long periods of sun exposure can lead to detrimental health effects, such as heat stroke, sunburns and even skin cancer. A healthy balance of time in the sun and skin protection is key to soaking up the luminous rays.
The short answer is that it depends. There are various factors, such as age, health history, genetics, predisposition to sun cancer and skin tone, to consider when determining how much sun you should be exposed to daily.
It is a good rule of thumb to try and get between 10 and 30 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week. Those with darker skin may require a bit more time in the sun to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D.
Try to plan out your time in the sun when exposure is at its peak, around noon, during the summer months. This allows you to spend less time in the sun while still experiencing enough exposure to get a sufficient amount of vitamin D from exposure.
Aside from the vitamin D boost, sun exposure positively affects our overall well-being.
Some of the benefits of limited sun exposure include:
- A boost in mood
- A balanced internal clock (circadian rhythm) and a healthier sleep cycle
- An increase in your energy levels
- Improvement of symptoms tied to mental health conditions
- Lowering blood pressure
- Decreasing your risk of metabolic syndrome
- Healing inflammation throughout the body
- Decreasing your risk of developing certain cancers
Although time spent in the sun has many positive effects and benefits for your physical and mental well-being, there are various adverse effects when you spend too much time soaking up sun rays.
Some negative effects include:
- Early aging
- A lowered immune system
- Eye injuries
- Skin changes
- An increased risk of skin cancer
Aside from providing your body with vitamin D, sunlight exposes you to ultraviolet radiation. This type of radiation has direct links to skin cancer. How much UV radiation your body absorbs depends on your skin tone. People with a darker skin tone absorb less UV radiation than those with lighter skin when exposed for the same amount of time.
Because of how much it varies by person, it is hard to nail down a set amount of time that is considered too much time for sun exposure.
The best way to gauge how much sun exposure is too much is how it affects your skin. If you are getting sunburns or have peeling skin, you’ve spent too much time in the sun. Peeling skin is a sign of your body getting rid of damaged skin cells.
Each sunburn increases your risk of developing skin cancer.
It is best to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun and wear sunscreen whenever you have to be in the sun for longer periods of time. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen often to ensure it is working efficiently.
If you’ve recently spent too much time in the sun that has resulted in a sunburn with symptoms such as painful, peeling or blistering skin, we can help. Visit Getwell Urgent Care in Southaven seven days a week for prompt and compassionate care so you can start feeling better sooner. There is no need to worry about an appointment; simply walk in. We are here and ready to treat your sunburn.