In his book The Healing Sun, Dr Richard Hobday lists some important factors for planning a sensible sunbathing strategy. His suggestions, as well as those of others researching alternatives, can make for safe and even healthful sunbathing.
Identify your skin type. Hobday presents six grades, from the most sensitive (those of Celtic extraction, often with red hair) who hardly tan and burn easily, to the least sensitive, those with brown to black Afro Caribbean skin and hair, who can spend long periods in the sun without burning. The high melanin level in their skin filters out a lot of the UV. Nevertheless, once they move to more moderate climates, like the UK, they often need extra sun exposure to maintain vitamin D levels.Don't cram all your sunbathing into two or three weeks.
Frequent short exposures are better than prolonged exposure.
The most useful time of the year to sunbathe is spring and early summer. Early morning sunshine seems to be particularly beneficial.
It is essential to receive the full spectrum of sunlight, so don't cover yourself with sunscreen.
Wear a hat to protect the more sensitive skin of your face, head and neck.
If you are especially sensitive to sunlight, sunbathe progressively by first exposing the feet and legs before going on to the abdomen and chest.
If you want to tan, observe closely how your tan develops. Assess your tolerance to sunlight before exposing the more sensitive parts of your body.
Watch your diet and eat organic whole foods, and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Avoid all refined, processed foods and avoid 'junk food' of all varieties.
Stay alert to ensure you do not burn.
For natural sun protection, use virgin olive oil or aloe vera. Japanese researchers have found that virgin olive oil, applied to the skin after sunbathing, protects against skin cancer (New Sci, May 11, 2000) while, in Switzerland, drug companies are exploring the protective properties of the flower edelweiss (The Times, May 5, 2001).
Taking daily supplements of vitamins C (2 g) and E (1000 IU) (J Am Acad Dermatol, 1998; 38: 45-8) and other antioxidants, such as selenium or flavonoids (for example, grapes, green tea and pine bark), help ward off UV damage. Carotenoids at 50 mg/day over six weeks or 25 mg over 12 weeks protects fair skinned people from UV induced skin damage. Betacarotene at 30 mg/day for two months before sun exposure is also protective. Vitamin A at 7500 IU every day (for those over nine years of age), starting the night before the first exposure to sun, will prevent sunburn. Folic acid, pantothenic acid, para aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and vitamin B-complex also help ward off the damaging effects of sun damage to hair and skin.
To treat the nausea and vertigo of sunstroke, take the homoeopathic remedy Cytisus laburnum every half hour. Glonoine or Belladonna every two hours will relieve the pulsating headaches that get worse with movement. Sol can be taken preventatively before sun exposure or after to relieve symptoms. For sunburn, take Kali carbonicum every four hours. Lemon juice applied once or twice a day provides quick relief from sunburn, and applications of aloe vera juice will stop the sunburned skin from peeling. For serious sunburn, Urtica, Pulsatilla, Cantharis or Galium aparine (goose grass or cleaver) will promote healing of the damaged skin.
If you use a swimming pool, try to find one which uses ozone, rather than chlorine, as a disinfectant.
Avoid contact with weak antiseptics such as found in soaps and creams.
Avoid the following drugs, as they increase your likelihood of burning: barbiturates, demeclocycline, pheno thiazines, griseofulvin, chlorothiazides and promethazine.