Do We Need UV Protection in Singapore?

  04 Apr 2018 0

Did you know that the UV (ultraviolet) radiation level in Singapore is generally in the HIGH to EXTREME range throughout the year?  And that the National Environment Agency (NEA) in Singapore recommends that we take steps to ensure we have extra protection against sunburn under these conditions?

The UV Index in Singapore

Take a look at the information presented in the NEA web site and it is clear that Singapore, being so close to the equator, has plenty of sun and therefore the level of solar UV radiation that showers upon us in Singapore is always in the High to Extreme range.

Table showing the Average Daily Maximum UV Index in Singapore (May 2010 to Apr 2012)
(source: NEA)

Exposure Categories of the UV Index
(source: NEA)

And compared to the rest of the world, Singapore also seems to have a higher level of UV radiation as shown in the table excerpt below.

Table illustrating the changes in UV radiation levels with season latitude. Maximal UV Index values are given for a range of cities in different countries, calculated for the 21st of each month
(source: WHO)

So what is the problem with these levels of UV exposure on a daily basis for us?


Harmful effects of UV radiation

Premature Aging of the Skin

When UV rays reach our skin, it penetrates to the inner layers of the epidermis, slowly destroying structural cells which eventually results in loss of elasticity, premature aging of the skin and wrinkles.

Take a look at this picture of a 69-year-old person. Half of his face looks much older than the other half. The reason being that he was a trucker and, for 28 years, his face received much more sunlight on the left side, resulting in premature aging.

(source: Shocking Proof that the Sun Makes You Age Prematurely)

Sunburn & Skin Cancer

The shorter UV rays, also called UVB, is the cause of the painful feeling on your skin after you have been out in the sun for a touch too long. Also called sunburn, this condition at the same time makes you feel tired and your immunity could be compromised.

Studies have shown that for young children with delicate skin, a few instances of blistering sunburns in their childhood doubles their chances of skin cancer in their adulthood.

Sun exposure that does not result in that instance in burning can still cause damage to skin cells and increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Regular exposure to UV radiation year after year can also lead to skin cancer.

In Australia, where the UV Index is comparable to Singapore’s in some locations, data shows that approximately 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. And the majority of these are caused by exposure to the sun.


Preventing Skin Cancer

For best protection, we take the lead from Australia’s Cancer Council and their SunSmart program.
They recommend a combination of sun protection measures:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible

    UPF50+ rashguard and boardshorts from Snapper Rock

  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun

    Sunscreen from Cancer Council

  • Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears

    UPF50+ sunhat from Wallaroo Hats

  • Seek shade

    Use umbrella during outdoors

  • Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian standards

    100% UV protected sunglasses from Babiators

    As it is necessary to reapply sunscreens every few hours to ensure adequate protection from the sun, for babies and children who are going to spend some time outdoors, we find that it is easiest for caregivers to think in this sequence of priority,

    1. Choose a time of the day where the UV levels are not the most intense
    2. Cover as much skin as possible with clothing and hat
    3. Then apply some suitable sunscreen on exposed areas
    4. And where possible, seek the shade

    As we understand the levels of UV radiation in Singapore and the effects of overexposure to them, we can take active steps to minimize exposure to them and enjoy the outdoors in a safe and pleasant way.

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