It is common knowledge that too much sun exposure is bad for your skin. Most people also know that we need sunlight to make vitamin D, a micronutrient that helps bone growth and calcium absorption, controls cell growth, regulates immunity and helps prevent inflammation. Unfortunately, it can be a tricky balance between getting the sunshine we need to produce enough vitamin D and risking overexposure and skin cancer.
How long should you stay in the sun?
The recommended amount of time in the sun depends on several factors, including time of day, geographic location, and your skin type.
- The higher up in the sky the sun is, the stronger are the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays that tan the skin and make it look older. The sun is highest at noon.
- UV radiation is higher near the equator in places like Florida, Central America and Thailand.
- The thinner the ozone layer, the stronger the UV radiation levels. UV exposure is greater in Australia and New Zealand, near the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.
- UVB exposure is more of a problem in high altitude mountainous areas.
- Water, snow and light sand reflect UV light, increasing exposure.
How much sun exposure can your skin handle?
The more sensitive your skin is to light, the shorter time it can protect itself against UV radiation. The following is a table of skin types and the maximum time for each that should be spent in the sun, taken from an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):
- Skin type I: Very fair complexion, reddish or strawberry blonde hair, blue or gray eyes, skin that does not tan but often freckles. Maximum time in the sun ̵1; 10 minutes.
- Skin type II: Fair skin (often with freckles), blond or brown hair, all eye colors, skin that turns barely or moderately brown. Maximum sun exposure – 20 minutes.
- Skin type III: Fair or light brown skin (rarely with freckles), gray or brown eyes, dark blond or brown hair, skin that tans easily and burns within half an hour. Maximum time in the sun – 30 minutes.
- Skin type IV: Light brown or olive skin without freckles, brown or dark brown eyes, dark brown hair, skin that turns deep brown and burns within 50 minutes. Maximum time in the sun – 50 minutes.
- Skin type V: Dark brown skin, dark brown or black hair, dark brown eyes, skin that takes more than an hour to burn in the sun and does not darken. Maximum sun exposure – more than 60 minutes.
- Skin type VI: Black or dark brown skin, black hair, dark brown eyes, skin that does not darken and takes more than an hour to burn in the sun. Maximum time in the sun – more than 60 minutes.
Do you have the right health insurance?
Both over- and under-exposure to the sun can cause health problems. Too much sun can accelerate signs of aging and increase the risk of skin cancer. Not getting enough sun can result in vitamin D deficiency, which can be linked to a number of health problems, including diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and autoimmune diseases.
If you suffer from any health conditions, it is important to get the care you need. Our agency will be happy to review your health insurance to ensure you have the coverage you need.