Sun Protection Tips For A Healthy Summer
Summer is the best time to enjoy the outdoors. But to get the most out of your summer, it’s important to protect against sun exposure. Even in light cloud cover, the sun’s harmful rays can break through and put you at risk of skin damage and sunburn. Fortunately, with a few sun protection tips you can easily reduce your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, so you can enjoy your time outdoors worry-free.
What are the risks associated with UV light?
Sunlight exposes you to ultraviolet radiation in the form of UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate the second layer of skin and age skin cells, contributing to certain types of skin damage. UVB rays, which affects the skin’s top layer, are the main rays that cause sunburn and are responsible for more severe skin damage. Overexposure to both UVA and UVB rays, especially during peak sun hours (10AM - 4PM), will increase your risk of sunburn and skin cancer.1 Both are harmful and with repeated exposure can lead to:
- Skin damage: premature aging, wrinkles, and age spots;
- Skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma;
- Eye disease: cataracts, macular degeneration, ocular pterygium formation.
Higher risk of sun damage as you age
It is the accumulative effect of sunlight exposure that increases your chances of getting skin cancer, so your risk becomes greater as you get older. Protecting yourself against sunburn and overexposure to UV light becomes even more important as you age.
Sun protection tips
To help reduce your risk of sunburn and sun damage, here are some helpful tips:
- Cover exposed areas of skin with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more, preferably waterproof. Apply 15 minutes before heading outside and reapply every 2 hours. And don’t forget your SPF lip balm!
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, making sure they offer adequate UVA and UVB protection.
- For extra protection, wear long sleeves, pants, and a sun hat.
- UV protective clothing is another option, and darker clothing is better than lighter fabrics.
- Always seek out the shade whenever you can and try to avoid the hours of the day when UVB rays are at their strongest.
Choosing the right sunscreen
SPF helps reduce the intensity and effects of UVB rays on the skin. It comes in many strengths from 15 up to 60. While a higher SPF provides extra protection, it doesn’t mean you can stay out in the sun for longer. Look for an SPF of 15 or more that offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays that can be worn every day.2
How to treat sunburn
It’s easy to overdo it and stay out too long in the sun, especially on those first sunny days of the year. Water, sand, snow, and even concrete reflect the light and can intensify the effects of UV radiation, so extra protection is needed. Also, don’t forget about your hands, ears, and toes. If it’s exposed, slather up!
In the case of sunburn, seek out the shade and stay hydrated with water. In extreme cases, a visit to the doctor might be necessary. Here are a few soothing remedies you can try:
- Cool compresses placed gently on the affected area or a cool bath will help reduce the redness and burning sensation.
- Calamine lotion also helps to cool the skin and reduce redness.
- Keep the skin moisturized with aloe vera creams and gels.
- Colloidal oatmeal baths can help soothe itchy skin and reduce inflammation. You can easily make your own by grinding whole oats in a blender and adding to your bath water.
With enough sunscreen and UV protection, you can greatly reduce your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. So be safe this summer and cover up!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sun Exposure; May 31, 2017.
- The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Guide To Sunscreens; July 3, 2012.
- Blog Contributor