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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.