After a long, cold winter, the arrival of spring is a welcome reprieve. The flowers are blooming, the birds and chirping and the sun is shining just enough to lift people’s spirits.
With the summer approaching, though, the threat of a heatwave looms. With that comes the risk of contracting illnesses from the effects of the sun and its heat. During the heat wave experienced last June and July in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics recorded almost 700 more deaths than average, most of which were heat-related.
Below, learn about the harmful effects of sun exposure so you can prepare against them in the summer.
1. Eye Damage
By now, you have surely heard of ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and how these harmful rays cause skin damage and sunburn, among other things. But did you know that UV rays can also adversely affect your sight? Exposure to the sun’s UV light can damage your retina, the area of your eye where visual images are formed and sent to your brain. Additionally, extended exposure to UV rays has been linked to the development of several other eye problems, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
To protect the eyes against direct exposure to UV rays, always wear some form of eye protection this summer, like tinted sunglasses or wide-brimmed hats.
2. Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke
Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke are potentially serious conditions that may occur if your temperature gets too high.
Heat exhaustion is your body’s response to salt and water loss, usually due to excessive sweating. According to the National Health Services, signs of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, excessive sweating, thirst and several others. When you or someone you know shows these signs, you need to find a way to cool your temperature down within half an hour; otherwise, it may turn into heatstroke.
Speaking of heatstroke, it is one of the most serious heat-related illnesses. It can raise your temperature quickly, up to about 42 degrees Celsius within 15 minutes. If left untreated, heat stroke can be fatal or may lead to permanent disability.
This is why it’s important to conduct outdoor activities in sun-protected areas, especially this summer. There should be outdoor shelters for schools for kids who will be in school until early July. If you have a job that requires you to work under the sun, you should have adequate protection, such as a hat or an umbrella, cool clothing and water to rehydrate yourself with.
3. Heat Rash
One of the most painful effects of sun exposure is heat rash. This usually occurs when sweat ducts trap perspiration under the skin. Heat rash then develops into red, pimple-like clusters or small blisters usually in the folds of your body, like the neck, the elbow creases, or the groin.
4. Premature Skin Ageing
Exposure to the harsh rays of the sun for extended periods plays a significant role in the development of wrinkles and how early they appear. The skin contains collagen and elastin, which are responsible for its firmness and elasticity. The sun’s UV rays damage these tissues, making the skin fragile and prone to sagging.
To prevent premature skin ageing, avoid overexposure to the sun, especially during the summer. Additionally, make it a habit to always wear sunscreen, not just on the arms and legs, but on your face and neck as well.
Much of the damage and illnesses that result from sun exposure are preventable. So, to completely enjoy the weather, make sure to prepare and protect yourself from the heat this summer.