Too much sunshine not good for young children or people with heat sensitivity

Having left a mainly editing and managing role in April, I now have more time to devote to writing. And, to be honest, that is where I am happiest.

Now I am writing for Medical News Today as well as paying much more attention to this blog. This had suffered through lack of time during the last year.

With more time available, I can now write articles that, before, were put on one side. And that starts today.

A news story caught my attention a couple of days ago. It was about a warning from NHS England and the Meteorological Office reminding parents that suntans on children are unhealthy.

Apparently, a survey suggests a third of parents believe, mistakenly, that going brown is good for children, But, a tan doesn’t stop the sun’s harmful UV rays. Instead, it is damaged skin trying to protect itself.

Clare Nasir, tv weather presenter and meteorologist, said: “Protecting against skin cancer isn’t something parents should leave to chance.

“UV levels are usually highest between May and September. Clouds don’t always stop UV rays, and unlike the sun’s warmth, it’s difficult to know when they may be harming you.”

Boost vitamin D but don’t overdo it

Dr Nigel Acheson, from NHS England, said although exposure to some sunlight was good for boosting vitamin D levels, people should not overdo it.

“We typically recommend that people spend no more than 10 to 15 minutes in the UK summer sun, unprotected, several times a week,” he said.

heat“People who spend more than 15 minutes in the sun on any given day, should apply sun protection factor 15 or higher.”

Nicola Smith, from Cancer Research UK, said: “There’s no such thing as a safe tan, from the sun or sunbeds.”

“While everyone needs a little bit of sun for vitamin D, most children and adults get enough from a short amount of time outside, less than it takes to burn.”

Apart from UV rays, too much sun can also hurt many of us, both with and without multiple sclerosis, who have heat sensitivity. Usually, this is caused by it being too hot, too cold or, for anyone like me, when it’s too changeable.

Top tips to avoid the sun’s heat and UV rays

British weather was too changeable for me, which is why Lisa and I moved to Spain. It gets really hot here but that’s ok for me because it’s constant.

So, what top tips are there to avoid being affected by the high summer temperature? Here’s a few:

  • Avoid extreme temperatures – If you love to be outdoors, limit your time in the sun. Go indoors to cool down. Don’t overheat or you’ll pay for it over the next few days.
  • Use cooling equipment – If you are outdoors for a time, make sure to keep cooling products available.
  • Keep yourself hydrated – Water is the best drink to fight dehydration and quench your thirst. Iced water is even better.
  • Wear lightweight clothing or clothes that breathe – Wear loose, lightweight and light coloured clothing. I recommend a light summer hat, too. That provides your own portable shade.
  • Plan ahead and remember timing is everything – If you are going to be outside, get your timing right. Avoid the hottest part of the day.

Heat sensitivity is unpleasant and makes symptoms of MS and other disabilities worse. But that is only temporary (pseudoexacerbations). The heat does not cause more damage.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.



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