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Erythema solare, or sunburn, is due to the rays of light rather than to the heat of the sun. Thus, excessive use of the various farms of ultra-violet light can cause a similar condition, whereas their careful manipulation, in gradual increase of dosage, gives rise to an exactly similar pigmentation of the skin as results from careful exposure to suushine.
Sunburn is more easily acquired by brunettes than by blondes. The whole integument is capable of reacting to the actinic rays of the sun with bronze pigmentation, but certain parts, such as the skin of the face and neck and the skin of the back of the hands and arms and, in bald-headed men, the skin of the scalp are more susceptible than others probably because they are more exposed. The precursor of the actual bronzing is always redness or erythema, which may come on in the specially susceptible after a short exposure to the sun's rays. The erythema is accornpanied by sensations of heat and burning, and frequently followed by some scaling as the erythema subsides the affected area of skin is seen to have assumed a brownish or bronze tint; and if the exposure to the sun has been prolonged, or continued over many days, the bronzing may be very deep.
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This bronzing is really a protective device, and consists in the deposition in the deeper parts of the epidermis of a layer of pigment which has been derived from the cells in the blood. Its purpose is to form a kind of screen to prevent the delicate blood vessels in the skin from being damaged by the sun's rays. The bronzing usually fades a few weeks after regular exposure of the skin to the summer sun has ceased.
Among those who spend their lives in the sun (e.g. Australians) the exposed parts of the face and arms gradually undergo a curious finc atrophy of the skin, which is accompanied by dilatation of the vessels (telangicctasis), patches of pigmentation and the formation of warts; a condition exactly similar to that seen in sailors and known as sailors' skin.
Prevention and Treatment
To avoid sunburn the best method is to protect oneself against its rays as far as possible, by wearing a broad-brimmed hat and using a lotion.
Exposure of the body to direct sunlight for carefully calculated periods of time increases the sense of well-being, for the rays of the sun have an active influence on metabolism, benefiting health and maintaining energy. Here are seen visitors to a sun-bathing clinic near Lonion.
Exposure of the skin to direct sunlight has certain health-giving properties but it must be carried out with due appreciation of the fact that such exposure may do actual harm and that some of the good effects attributcd to it have tended in the past to be over-rated. The rays of the sun's spectrum with which we are principally concerned in sun-bathing are the red or heat giving rays, and the shorter and invisible rays which appear in the spectrum beyond the violet rays and are therefore known as ultraviolet. The heat-giving wavcs dilate superficial blood vessels, stimulate sweat glands, warm and exhilarate the whole body.
It is obvious that this heating of the body can be carried to excess in the ahscnc of free perspiration, and in an atmophere saturated with moisture, so that the cooling effects of evaporation from the skin arc absent. Heat stroke may then easily result. In moderation the added heat of the body stimulates metabolism and is beneficial. The ultra-violet rays which affect the body are of very limeted extent aad are easily shut off by smoke in the atmospiure. They are most potent. at mid-day and in mid-summer: in early spring, winter and antumn they only reach the earth in an appreciable amount on clear days in the middle of the day when the sky is clear.
Exposure to ultra-violet rays produces, in time, pigmentation of the skin. This occurs more readily in dark than in fair people. The pigmentaton affords actual protection against an overdose of sunlight so that dark people are less apt to take harmful doses. Protection is also afforded by anointing the skin with oil, as this shuts out the rays that are potent for harm.
Although acute kidney disease or nephritis is generally due to infection, it is not usually included in the category of infectious diseases. It calls for special dietetic treatment by reason of the temporary inability of the kidneys to exerete the products of protein combustion, specifically urea, creatinine and uric acid. The obvious indication, therefore, is to reduce the protein intake. Milk, on account of its high protein content, is best omitted in severe cases, but may be given diluted in small quantities in milder conditions The same objection does not apply to carbohydrate foods or fats, the products of combustion of which are removed by the lungs and the bowel. Extractives are for the most part removed by the kidneys, and therefore meat soups and broths should not be given. Vegetable broths are much more suitable. The removal of water from the system is also largely dependent on kidney activity. It tends, therefore, to accumulate in the system, with the development of dropsy if the excess cannot be removed by the skin and the intestine. See Dropsy.
Exposure to the powerful ultra-violet rays should be very gradual, both in the amount of skin exposed and the period of exposure. Sun-bathing forms part of the curriculum of a modern school in the suburbs of Berlin.
It is essential that exposure should be gradual both in respect to the area of skin exposed and the length of exposure. It should stop short of reddening of the skin to any extent. In midsummer and especially on the mountain side and the seabeach there are a fair quantity of the health giving rays even on cloudy days. Injudicious sun-bathing causes discomfort or actual pain from injury to the skin, with restlessness, sleeplessness and a sense of fatigue. These effects must be carefully guarded against.