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Is It Dangerous to be in the Sun?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 21, 2024
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With all the talk about skin cancer caused by sun damage to the skin, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether it’s inherently dangerous to be in the sun. Like many other things, too much sun exposure can certainly create risk for premature aging of the skin, cancerous skin growths and potentially lethal cancer. Yet does this mean we shouldn’t ever step outside the door on a bright sunny day? The answer to this question is an overwhelming no, but we do have to be careful about when and how much time to be in the sun.

Sunshine gives us an incredible gift, the gift of vitamin D, which we absorb when we are outside. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium, and translates to nice strong bones. In fact, failure to get adequate sun exposure or be in the sun long enough, especially over a long period of time, can result in conditions like brittle bones and rickets. Many people drink fortified milk in order to help get adequate Vitamin D levels.

We don’t need to be in the sun for very much time to get optimum Vitamin D amounts in our body. Experts say it takes about 10-60 minutes per week to absorb adequate amounts of Vitamin D. If you’ve been out without sunscreen on for about 10-15 minutes, it’s definitely time to lather up, because it is unquestionably dangerous and potentially unhealthy to be in the sun for longer periods of time without sunscreen protection.

It’s also important to use sun protection or limit time in the sun based on age, health conditions and medications you might take. Newborns should generally be in the sun for lesser amounts of time. Some people have conditions that make sun exposure challenging, like lupus. Plenty of antibiotics and other common medications may make a person photosensitive, and any surgery performed on the skin may mean avoiding direct sun exposure for a while.

It’s certainly not the case that the sun is our enemy; we really wouldn’t be here without its energy. It’s just that there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to sun exposure. This is why it is very important to wear sunscreen most of the time, and hats, sunglasses and protective clothing that can help minimize sun exposure. Don’t forget that even if you can’t see the sun on a cloudy or hazy day for instance, you can still get sunburned. Sunscreen is just as important on these days as on days when you get full sun.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By rosequartz — On Jun 03, 2011

I use organic sun screen with mineral protection and don't get sunburned anymore. I still love the sun but only get about 15 minutes per day without protection.

My doctor said it takes 15 minutes to get a good dose of Vitamin D where we live. That's free Vitamin D!

By seafoam — On Jun 02, 2011

At a spring football game I was caught in the sun during the strongest rays of the day (noon to 2:30 p.m.). Spring in the subtropics is more like summer to folks up north.

Anyway, I used a sunscreen on my arms and neck, and stayed under an umbrella for the two and a half hours. I got so sunburned, I couldn't believe it!

When I got home I looked up how much protection that umbrella gave me in full sun and it was only as much as 10 SPF!

If you think you're protected under an umbrella or under a tee shirt, think again!

By Sunny27 — On Jul 12, 2010

Great article- I just want to add that the sun’s rays are strongest during noon and 3PM, so exposure to the sun should be limited during that time frame.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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