Using sunscreen is not uncommon in most Western countries as they are aware of it, and also their skin is more sensitive to the sunlight. India is a tropical country; we have more than our fair share of the sun. Also, outdoor work (especially in rural areas) like farming is very common. They cannot avoid sunlight if they have to earn their livelihood. It is also true of the majority of the migrant population who move to the urban areas from the rural, in search of work. They work in the construction industry, or as labourers, or some such other work, where they cannot avoid the exposure to the sun and its heat.
While the middle and the urban upper-class people of the Indian society have some respite from the sun, it is not as if; they too can avoid it entirely. The course of work may require a person to ride or move around in the sun, if at least for a while. Seniors are mostly always advised to avoid exposure to the sun, especially during the 11 am to 4 pm time. However, there is still a possibility that one may have to run some small errands or step out for something unavoidable. So, is it necessary to use sunscreen to protect oneself?
Per se, it is advisable for every individual, especially a senior one, to get a minimum of ten minutes of sunlight every single day. This is to ensure that the body gets enough Vitamin D so that the bones remain strong. Natural sunlight is vital for bone health, and Vitamin D deficiency is an issue among the Indian population, where they mostly spent time working indoors. However, this has to be taken in moderation, and there are many issues associated with long term, consistent exposure to sunlight.
Studies have revealed that overexposure can skin issues, and even skin cancer as well. It is a well-known fact that sun helps the skin to tan and age; so should an aging senior citizen worry about it more? It is a fact that aging skin is more vulnerable and less able to protect itself from cancer. So, irrespective of the fact that you are aging, it is always better to take precautions.
The elderly should necessary precautions while stepping out into the sun, especially when the sun is high, and for more extended hours. Some of the most natural precautions that can be taken are:
- Wearing protective clothing
- Using hats, caps, and glasses
- Avoiding long outdoor stay to the extent that you get a tan
- Using some moisturizer regularly
The one other important thing that can be done, which most Indians usually do not do is to use a sunscreen. Apply sunscreen on all exposed parts, when you know you have to spend some time out in the sun, even if it is not very hot. Since the skin is already damaged, and the sunlight can harm it more and faster, it is always safer to use a sunscreen. A recommended composition is a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and a measure of how well the sunscreen will protect your skin from the UV rays. It is these rays that have the kind of radiation that causes all skin issues like sunburn, extensive skin damages, and also contribute to skin cancer.
This is more so, if you have sensitive skin, easily get sunburns or rashes, or have had any family history of such issues, etc. Aged skin will also take more time to heal as easily as it gets damaged. Hence, it is best to follow the doctor’s advice and take the necessary precautions.
Forget the Past
Most often, Indians, especially seniors, do not use sunscreen, as they see it as an unwanted burden. We have always been like this, and for generations, nothing ever happened, etc. is the excuse that most seniors give to avoid using sunscreen, reasonably confident that nothing will happen. But then, this is just cream, and that too is applied only when you step out into the hot sun for long hours. So, it is better to be safe than be sorry and start using sunscreen, from this summer. It could just help your skin stay healthier and younger and prevent any chances of skin cancer as well.