Wellness Wednesday: Enjoying the Sun Safely

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

The sun is honouring us with its presence and the temperature on the thermometer is on the rise! So, it’s that (all too often brief!) time of the year to remind everyone of the importance of protecting oneself in the sunshine and how to do that. With the weather as it is, if we’re lounging outside sunbathing or working in the garden or allotment, we need to consider how to keep ourselves safe in the sun.

The British Association of Dermatologists offer advice based on an easy to remember SOS theme: Save Our Skin:

  • Slip On a Shirt
  • Seek Out Shade
  • Slap On Sunscreen

Accessing their website below provides additional information on sunscreen, skin advice for skin of colour, sun protection advice for children and babies, a Vitamin D factsheet and sun awareness leaflets.

The NHS also offers comprehensive advice on how to keep yourself safe in the sun; the link to their website is also below.

Some research advice does show that it’s not good to shun the sun’s rays completely.  With care, exposure to sunshine can have some excellent health benefits.  Up to 15 minutes a day without protection can be okay. Sunlight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D.  We can produce this in the summer and store it to keep us through the winter.  Research has shown that Vitamin D is important in helping our immune system, forming strong bones, helping us with mental health disorders and assisting us with better sleep.  There are links to two articles below exploring the health benefits of Vitamin D gained through sunshine; the one by Lizette Borrell references a number of research projects. A further research project in the British Journal of Dermatology shows evidence that wearing sunscreen does not interfere with the body creating Vitamin D. So, you can have the best of both worlds.

There is a lot of innocent joy to be gained from simply feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin.  A survey undertaken by Vitamin N, a group of organisations with interests in the environment and mental health, showed that children enjoyed time outdoors over the pandemic during the lockdown periods and flagged it as something they should keep up when attending school regularly.

If possible, take some time to connect with the fresh air and sunshine while taking care to stay safe in the sun.

British Association of Dermatologists’ Sun Awareness website

‘How to Stay Safe in the Sun’ on the British Skin Foundation website

NHS Sunscreen and Sun Safety website

‘Sun Safety’ on Cancer Research UK website

‘How to be Sun Safe’ on the Early Years Alliance website: specific advice for safety for children

‘Sun Exposure: Vitamin D And Other Health Benefits Of Sunlight’ by Lizette Borrell, Medical Daily

‘Sunscreen application does not prevent vitamin D production in the majority of people’ article on the British Association of Dermatologists website

‘What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?’ by Timothy J Legg, Healthline

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