Sunday, 3 May 2015


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

We all rush outside on a sunny day as it makes us feel good, but too much strong sunlight can be damaging to the skin. 

The problem is caused by the ultraviolet (UV) rays in strong sunlight. In summer, even on cloudy days, enough UV can filter through clothing to cause burning to occur. You should be particularly careful while you are out of doors in the summer in the three or four hours around the middle of the day as the sun is most intense at these times.

It is not simply sudden exposure while on holiday that is harmful. Even a tan that has been built up gradually can be harmful to health.   Too much sun will also speed up the ageing of your skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is an increased chance of skin cancer later in your life. 

Skin Cancer

People with white skin are at most risk of skin cancer and particular care should be taken if you have fair or freckled skin that doesn't tan, or burns before it tans,  red or fair hair and light coloured eyes or a large number of moles (over 100 in young people, or over 50 in older people).

You can reduce your exposure to UV by wearing suitable clothing. Ordinary clothing made from close-woven fabric, such as a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans, will stop most of the UV. Don't be tempted to leave off your shirt; skin that hasn't seen the sun for month’s burns easily. A sun hat will shade your face and head, the areas which suffer most from sunlight.  Choose one with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and back of the neck.

Hats and other clothing are the best form of protection, but sunscreen creams and lotions can add useful protection for parts of your body that are not easy to shade from the sun.  Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 15 or more.

The first warning sign is often a small scabby spot which does not clear after a few weeks.  Look for changed or newly formed moles or any skin discolouration.  It is normal for moles to grow until you are about 18 years old, but as an adult you should show your doctor any moles which grow or change. Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

Fortunately most of these signs will be harmless, but medical checks may be needed to be sure.  Even if a spot is cancerous, simple modern treatments can usually cure it and most don't spread to other parts of the body.  The smaller the spot the easier it is to cure.  So don't put off going to the doctor when you know you should.


Other problems with being outside during the summer, particularly on sunny days with little breeze, include dehydration.  Ensure that you have drinks with you at all times and drink on a regular basis to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can be a serious problem when out all day in direct sunlight and high temperatures. 

Sufferers may not realise, because feeling thirsty is not an early symptom. You may not realise that you are sweating in conditions where sweat is evaporating quickly and thus loosing body liquid. It maybe convenient not to have to pass urine during a working day, but it can also be an indication that you are becoming dehydrated

Symptoms of dehydration include headache, tiredness, malaise  (feeling of unease, mild sickness or depression) and muscle cramps in lower limbs and abdomen indicate more severe dehydration.

Ensure you take rest periods in the shade and drink plenty of appropriate drinks (fruit drinks and Water being the most important whilst tea, coffee and fizzy drink have a lesser effect). Wear appropriate clothing.

Heat exhaustion

Hyperthermia (heat exhaustion) is caused by over strenuous activity in hot and humid weather and is exacerbated by wearing unsuitable clothing, overeating and drinking alcohol. 

Symptoms are similar to dehydration but also include nausea, dizziness, fast and shallow breathing and possible fainting.  Mild cases treated by moving into shade, splashing with cold water, fanning and taking plenty of fluids. Severe cases of heat exhaustion can be fatal so seek medical attention straight away if symptoms worsen.

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