So how do we start our day when we plan to step out in the sun? We apply sunscreen, put on sunglasses, and wrap around a scarf… all this to protect ourselves from the radiation of the sun. Next, we reach our desired destinations we remove all the protection, and get back to our daily routine. But, while doing all this do we remember our parents or grandparents telling us to go in the sun during the morning and get some amount of vitamin D. Well, Sun is the nowadays it’s really a thought-provoking thing to think about whether we need the Sun or the sunscreen. Let us understand in detail.
Our so-called modern and techno-savvy world is flooded with content on social media about how harmful sunrays are. We know that in India the ancient people and for that matter in many other regions too Sun has been a powerful healer and a symbol of GOD. So if we go by science and the way research has evolved; Sun exposure in moderate amounts does more good than harm. It is very important for good skin health. How much of it do we really need?
Sunlight is composed of a continuous spectrum of electromagnetic radiations which spreads across various wavelengths ie. range. The three main categories of wavelengths are Ultraviolet (UV)radiation (8.3%), visible light (38.9%), and Infrared (IR) radiation (52.8 %). Out of all these UV, radiation is the most active biologically and has the shortest wavelength and hence highest energy.
UV radiation is of two main types: UVA and UVB. UVA is plentiful and is capable of penetrating deep into the dermis of the skin. UVB is more energetic and is less plentiful, and doesn’t penetrate the dermis because it is absorbed and scattered. UV-B radiation from the sun is the most effective source of Vitamin D, and these radiations are most intense during mid-day. Early morning or late evening exposure too is useful.
It is definitely right that excessive exposure to sunlight without sunscreen can cause erythema, sunburns, tanning, pigmentation, and irritation. But the fact that our body also needs vitamin D for the strengthening of bones should always be remembered.
So next time you plan to get some vitamin D from Sun do check the time. A pan-India study has revealed that the best time to get exposed to the sun is between11am and 1pm since the wavelength of ultraviolet B (UVB) rays is 290-320nm during this period which is essential for skin to synthesize vitamin D. Shortest time of exposure is enough to generate vitamin D as UVB rays are most intense during this time. Also, sunlight plays a crucial role in treating various skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin.
At the same time overexposure to sunlight without application of a good and effective sunscreen may lead to tanning, pigmentation, aging, sun allergies as well as skin cancer. Avoiding the sun, wearing appropriate clothing and judicious use of sunscreens reduces the chance of these harmful effects. Depending on the time of the day, the weather condition, and the need you are the best person to judge whether a sunscreen needs to be applied or not. Total non-exposure is equally not good for the body as is overexposure. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before stepping out as the ingredients in most of the sunscreen lotions or creams need time to get absorbed and to act for protection.