We all love the sunshine, well at least most of us do, but it seems quite strange how things have now spun full circle since the early days of the Victorian era for example. In those days, landed gentry and “posh folk” could be told by the alabaster white of their skins, whereas the commoners and working class (those unable to hide away from the rays of the sun) would therefore have had suntanned skins.
Fashion Versus Health
Fast forward to the late 20th century and of course you will find yourself in amongst a time when exhibiting a brown, suntanned skin, was seen as being a sign of good health and good wealth. But in reality of course, a suntan is your skin's reaction to excess ultraviolet rays and is in actual fact your skins self defence mechanism against those rays, designed to try to block out or dissipate any unwanted excess radiation that might otherwise cause damage and maybe even skin cancer.
Managing The Spanish Summer Sun
For expats who have decided to live in sunnier climes, managing exposure to the sun has become a more important issue of late, as awareness to the dangers of excess UV has grown. In the UK, where sunshine is not quite so fierce and not so freely available, managing exposure is relatively easy.
But in the sunnier countries like Spain for example, you have to bear in mind that just going out for a pleasant stroll, a little shopping, or simply pottering about in the garden for a few minutes, will expose you to higher levels of sunshine than you were maybe used to back in the UK. In fact, even though you may not feel you are being exposed at all, your body is in fact being constantly bombarded.
Keeping It Simple
It is therefore only prudent to make sure that you take the right precautions. Simple things like avoiding being in the sun during the peak times of sunshine, for example when the sun is at its most fierce, (typically between 11:00 and 15:00 hours) should become a significant part of your sun management regime. Making sure that you apply a high SPF sunblock to those exposed parts of your body should also become part of your new regime.
Protecting Exposed Parts Of Your Body
It's all too easy to overexpose certain parts of your body that receive direct sunlight without you even thinking about it; for example the top of your head (especially vulnerable if you have thinning hair), the back of your neck, the top of your shoulders and the backs of your hands. Your head and scalp in particular will benefit from the wearing of a hat and you should insure you wear a shirt or blouse to help to protect your shoulders and upper arms. As for the back of your neck, a legionnaire’s type hat with a drape to protect your neck is advisable.
Looking Out For The Children
Where as us grown-ups are, or should be, perfectly capable of managing our own sun protection regime, this is not the case with small children. The problem of course is that children are unaware of the dangers that overexposure to UV from sunshine can cause. It is therefore the responsibility of parents, grandparents and any older relatives, to ensure that they keep a careful eye on young ones.
The same rules apply to children as to grown-ups, but the important thing when dealing with young ones is the actual policing of the policy. Firstly, making sure that children are kept in the shade during the hotter parts of the day is key, as is the liberal application of sufficient amounts of high factor suntan lotion or sunblock. It is also important to check the children regularly to make sure that the lotion has not dried up. It must be constantly renewed.
Children's Summer Dress Code
Dressing your children correctly is another important factor in making sure that they are not just protected from the sun's rays, but also that they feel comfortable in the sunshine. Providing children with the right quality of clothing to help to protect them from the sun can be quite challenging because most commercial garments do not publish any sort of UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) figures. You should also be aware that when ordinary garments such as T-shirts become saturated with water, whatever UPF they may have when dry, is actually halved when wet! So if your children are in and out of the sea or the swimming pool, you should change their wet tops for dry.
It is possible to buy special sun protective clothing that has a UPF of 50, and this will protect your children from up to 98% of dangerous UV rays, plus the fact that when wet, the UPF remains undiminished. You can find out more about this sort of clothing by doing a little research on the internet.
Our Children Are Our Future
Our children are our future and we owe it to them to look after their health and welfare and to manage their sun protection regimes to ensure that they remain fit and healthy. A little sunshine is not only desirable, but it is essential for good health and so we mustn't scaremonger ourselves into banishing the sunshine from our lives altogether. However a little common sense and good management will allow us to enjoy the best of both worlds.
November 12, 2013