Posted July 22, 2021 by Charles A. Zonfa, MD, FACOG | Chief Medical Office
Summer is in full swing. The sun is shining, the pool is open and spending time outdoors is the norm, rather than the exception. So this season when heading outside — whether it’s to the pool, the tennis court or hitting the trails — make sun safety a top priority for you and your family.
Extended exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburn, premature aging, eye damage and increase your risk for skin cancer — no matter your skin type. People with lighter skin tones are more prone to sunburns, but even if you have darker skin, your skin is susceptible to damage from the sun.
Sunburn is the leading cause of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. With a history of just five or more sunburns, your risk of developing deadly melanoma doubles.
The good news is sunburn is highly preventable. Your best defense against it is to avoid sun exposure altogether, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the summer indoors.
SummaCare offers 3 simple ways to protect you and your family’s skin from the sun’s damaging rays, while having more fun in the sun this season.
Sunscreen protects you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. So when going outside, even on cloudy days, make sure to generously apply sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or higher. Also, check that it’s a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.
The key is using it correctly for the best protection. Apply about one ounce of sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside on all exposed skin, including your nose, ears, hands and tops of feet. Reapply it every two hours, or immediately after getting out of the water or sweating excessively.. Also, don’t forget to apply lip balm with an SPF of at least 15.
Sunscreens that contain mineral-based ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are recommended because they sit on top of the skin, rather than being absorbed, so they are less likely to cause irritation.
Dress in long, loose pants and shirts that are lightweight and light colored to reflect the sunlight. Look for clothing that has an SPF factor or made of a tightly woven fabric that you can’t easily see light through.
In addition, wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunlight reflecting off the sand and water can further increase your exposure to UV radiation and increase your risk of eye damage. So, be sure to look for shades that offer 99 percent UVA and UVB protection.
Your hat should have a wide brim all the way around that shades your face, ears and neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through.
Escape the blazing sun by seeking a shady spot. You can still enjoy outdoor activities while in the shade, whether it’s under a tree, pop-up tent or umbrella. What’s more, shade can help reduce your chances of overheating, in addition to sun protection.
If shade isn’t an option, limit your sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. A good rule of thumb to follow is to seek shade if your shadow is shorter than you.
Don’t make the sun your enemy. You can enjoy the great outdoors, while protecting you and your family’s skin from damaging rays with sunscreen, protective clothing and seeking shade.