Exposure to the sun is necessary for our body in many ways. Sunlight is the only natural source of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones. However, prolonged exposure to the sun can be harmful for our skin.

The epidermis or the outer layer of our skin is made up of cells that contain a pigment known as melanin. Melanin protects our body cells from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun – a suntan is nothing but a darkening of the skin as melanin surges up to protect it.

A suntan is only a short-time effect of exposure to the sun. However, there are other, more severe effects. For example, people who don’t have much melanin in the upper layer of their skin can get severe skin burns – this also accelerates ageing. And, of course, we all know that prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.

The bad news is that many of us let our guard down in the wintertime, and open ourselves up to skin damage as a result of exposure to the sun. The good news is three simple steps can help us prevent – and to some extent, reverse – the damage to our skin by prolonged exposure to the sun. Read on to know more:

Wear sunscreen, even at home

Around 95% of the sun’s rays that reach the earth’s surface are UVA (ultraviolet A). These UVA radiations can penetrate through the clouds and reach you, even when you feel protected in your house. Hence covering yourself properly is as necessary when you are indoors as when you are out in the sun.

Experts recommend using a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. Other than the right SPF, they say that the right quantity of sunscreen is also important: the recommendation is to apply about ¼ tablespoon of sunscreen on the face and arms.

Experts also advise that you avoid going out in the sun between 10am and 2pm, as these are the peak hours when the sun can damage your skin severely.

Use vitamin C serum

Prolonged exposure to the sun can induce free-radical cell damage which can harm your skin and accelerate ageing by causing wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots.

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C control this free radical cell damage. Vitamin C reduces premature cell death and keeps a check on inflammatory compounds like cytokines. Vitamin C also reduces hyperpigmentation and accelerates the growth of collagen – a protein that makes our skin supple and elastic.

Using vitamin C serum and keeping your skin and body hydrated will help keep your skin young and healthy.

Eat foods rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants help to reduce the free radicle cell damage due to UVA radiation, stress, and pollution. They also reduce the chances of photo-ageing.

Consuming nutritious foods is essential for giving your skin nourishment from the inside. Eating foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants like fruits keeps your skin young and lively.

Vitamin E is essential to improve the texture of your skin and reduce premature skin ageing because of UVA radiation. Vitamin E protects the cell membranes and fights the free radical cell damage. Fat-soluble vitamin E works more effectively with water-soluble vitamin C.

Omega 3 and other healthy fatty acids keep the skin hydrated and decrease skin inflammation issues. Walnuts are a rich source of Omega 3.

You can’t avoid going out in the sun completely and you can’t stop UVA radiations from reaching you. However, the above little steps can help you to reverse the sun damage to your skin to a great extent.

This article was contributed by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Sunburn: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment.

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