Sun protection is simply guarding a body from the adverse effects of sunlight. Too much sun has been shown to cause skin damage and skin cancers. Australia has the uppermost rate of skin cancer in the world, frequently caused by over exposure to UV radiation. Part of the sun's energy that reaches us on earth is composed of rays of invisible ultraviolet (UV) light. When ultraviolet light rays (UVA and UVB) enter the skin. Sunlight contains three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. A UVA tan does not help protect the skin from further sun damage; it merely produces color and a false sense of protection from the sun.
UVB rays are also hazardous, causing sunburns, cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), and immune system damage. Most UVB rays are engrossed by the ozone layer, but enough of these rays pass through to cause serious damage. About 90% of UVB rays are absorbed by ozone, water vapour and carbon dioxide before they can get to the Earth's surface. UVC rays are the most dangerous, but fortunately, these rays are blocked by the ozone layer and don't reach the earth. Sunburn is a visible type of damage, which appears just a few hours after sun exposure. In many people, this type of damage also causes tanning.
Freckles, which arise in people with pale skin, are usually because of sun exposure. Freckles are almost always a sign that sun injure has occurred, and therefore show the need for sun protection. Ultraviolet light rays also cause invisible damage to skin cells. The best ways to avoid sunburn are to limit time in the sun, especially between peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. To protect from the sun, clothing should cover as much of the skin as possible (ie long sleeves, collars, long trousers or skirts). Colour is less important. Dark colours give more protection from UVB, but they may make you feel hotter.
People with sensitive skin who burn rapidly and must splurge a lot of time outdoors should always apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Wearing good quality sunglasses can defend the eyes. Sunglass lenses should absorb all UVB and UVA. The eyes of infants and toddlers should be protected by keeping them out of the sun and by using hats and shade. Anaesthetic creams on the skin may help a bit, but they can sting when you put them on, and also can irritate the skin. Cool water seems to soothe, and the use of pain relief (e.g. paracetamol) can help. Anti-inflammatory creams such as those used for eczema may be helpful.