Regular sun exposure can lead to sunburns and heatstroke, said a medical expert from Al Ain, where the mercury crossed 50 degrees Celsius.
“If your shadow is shorter than you, look for shade,” advised Dr Bachar Afandi, head of the division of endocrinology, Tawam Hospital, part of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA).
In Al Ain’s Sweihan, temperatures hit 51 degrees Celsius on Tuesday and 50.6 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. Earlier in June, 50.5 degrees Celsius was recorded in Owtaid, Al Dhafra region. These are the three of the hottest days registered so far this year in the country.
Dr Afandi noted that even though sunlight is a source of life and the most natural way to get a dose of Vitamin D, regular sun exposure, especially when ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest, will be harmful for skin.
“Too much sun exposure can cause an adverse response, which may lead to negative consequences, such as skin burns and sunstroke. UV rays can harm skin cells and eyes. Prolonged exposure to these rays leads to changes in the skin at the tissue level and in the cells and their nuclei, which causes the skin to age and sag. This also contributes to changes and distortions of the genes and can cause damage to the eye, including lens density, cataracts, and cracked lips.”
According to UK-based Weather Online, most parts of the UAE recorded a UV index of 12, which is the ‘extreme’ category, on Wednesday. The UV index indicates the level of these rays in the atmosphere and how dangerous they are to the public.
“Generally speaking, there is no relationship between temperature and the UV index, as the index is related to the angle of the arrival of the rays to the ground. One example of this are higher chances of getting sunburnt when on mountains covered with snow, even when the sun is not visible. Continuous exposure to high-intensity ultraviolet rays for more than 15 minutes, in conjunction with the sun’s high temperature, causes the skin to be unable to continue its thermal insulation function, and thus rapid dehydration occurs,” Dr Afandi pointed out.
People’s sensitivity to the influence of sunlight and to UV damage varies according to skin colour, as it increases in people with paler skin, in addition to the patient’s age, genetic factors, intensity, duration and location of exposure to sunlight.
Dr Afandi stressed that during the summer, 10 am to 4 pm is considered the “worst time for direct exposure” to the sun in most countries of the world.
“To prevent exposure, it is recommended to wear proper protection in the form of clothing and SPF lotions. In cases of high index and extreme heat, full caution must be taken. The damage from ultraviolet rays appears years after their occurrence. The signs would include extreme thirst, redness of the skin, headache, heat, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, dehydration, and delirium.”
Dr Afandi urged the public to avoid exposure to the sun in the middle of the day.
“All countries of the world should advise their citizens to prevent injuries from sunstroke by reducing periods of direct exposure, staying in the shade, wearing hats, covering the eyes, nose, and skin of the head, as well as covering the hands and legs, using protective creams for the skin, lip balms, umbrellas and (protective) sunglasses, in addition to drinking water in sufficient quantities.”
For further details and concerns about harmful effects of sun on the skin, call 800 50 or visit www.seha.ae/, book an appointment through the SEHA Mobile app or WhatsApp on 02 410 2200.
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