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Dangers of Sun

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Egypt is blessed with the sun and long, happy days of swimming, sailing and sunbathing. However, don't forget that too much sun is not only bad for you, but can also be deadly. Not nearly enough of us are heeding the health warnings. When the sun is forever-shining on the lovely beaches and cities of Egypt, you need to protect yourselves while having fun.

Over-exposure to the sun causes premature wrinkling, freckling, burning, cataracts and increasing skin cancer. The more time you spend in the sun over your lifetime, the greater your risk of developing skin cancer.

Sun 101

Two types of ultraviolet light strike the surface of the earth, UVA and UVB. UVA gives a tan, and is almost harmless to plants and animals. On the other hand, the shorter UVB waves damage plant tissue and impair immunity causing sunburn and possibly skin cancer
UV radiation even passes through water. 80% of UV rays pass through clouds; and if you're planning desert trips, remember that sand reflects sunlight and boosts the amount of UV radiation.

The Golden Menace

Although the sun's rays are progressively more harmful, it is nearly impossible to resist lounging on the beach or sundeck. Sunburns are bad, but a warm, glowing tan makes us look radiant, alive and natural. A tan, however, is our skin crying for us to get out of the sun.

Tanning occurs when the sun's ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin's inner layers. This injures cells and makes the skin produce more melanin as a response to the injury. Melanin provides natural protection from sun damage. Everybody has varying degrees of melanin; people with darker skin have more melanin than those with fair skin, which is why they tan more easily.

Sun Screens

Sunscreens provide varying shelter from different, harmful rays. All SPF sunscreens filter out some UVB rays, but opt for broad-spectrum creams. These safeguard against both UVA (wrinkle-causing) and UVB (sun burn and skin cancer-causing) rays and contain ingredients like Parsol, Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. These ingredients block almost the entire spectrum of damaging rays without exposing you to irritating chemicals.



The Sun Protection Factor rating system has been established by the American Food and Drug Administration. It primarily measures how much UVB safety the product provides. Currently, the rating system doesn't yet identify UVA protection. Numbers range from as low as 2 to as high as 60. The numbers represent the time needed to produce a sunburn on protected skin to the time needed to produce a sunburn on unprotected skin. The rating is based on individual skin type. For example, if a sunscreen is rated SPF 2 and a fair-skinned person who'd normally turn red after ten minutes of exposure in the sun uses it, it's take twenty minutes of exposure for their skin to turn red. A sunscreen with SPF 15 would allow that person 15 times longer to burn.
Everyone needs protection, even people with dark skin. Greater melanin lowers the risk of cancer, but doesn't eliminate it. Regardless of skin type, The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 should be used year-round. Higher SPF sunscreens are appropriate for very sun-sensitive individuals. These higher formulas contain blends of more than one sunscreen because no single-chemical is capable of absorbing all UVB radiation.

Sunscreens should be used every day if you're going to be in the sun longer than 20 minutes. They can be applied under makeup. Many cosmetics include sunscreens for daily use because sun protection is the principal means of preventing premature aging and skin cancer. On the otherhand, through exposure to the sun our skin produces much needed vitamin D.

Apply sunscreens to dry skin 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. This allows the product to be absorbed, arming the skin before facing the enemy. Cover the skin liberally. 'If you buy a sunscreen or sunblock but apply less than recommended, you may be dramatically lowering the amount of protection you're getting' says Steven Neilbar, MD, medical director, Consumer Health Care Group, Pfizer, Inc.

Pay particular attention to the face, hands, arms and shoulders. If you have short hair or wear it pulled back, give special consideration to ears and neck. Use extra protection for lips. Lips contain little or no melanin, making them a prime target. Make sure your lip balm or gloss has at least an SPF of 15.

Because sand, sweat and towel-rubbing make lotion wear off, you need to reapply frequently, depending on the manufacturer's instructions. Go for a water-resistant sun screen for swimming, water sports or if you perspire easily. Sunscreens have a shelf life. Two years is usually the maximum, but being stored in excessive heat quickens expiration. So if you've forgotten it in the car's sweltering back seat or if the product's texture has changed, buy a new one.

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