Now that summer is here, millions of Americans will be spending more time in the sun than they have in months. Unfortunately, enjoying the sunshine without taking steps to protect your skin can result in painful sunburns, premature skin aging, and even skin cancer. The good news is that you can usually prevent these things with some simple precautions.
Apply Sunscreen Every Day
A common misperception that people have about sun damage is that it cannot occur on cold or overcast days. However, the sun’s rays are always strong even when it is not directly shining on you. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that Americans of all ages apply at least one ounce of sunscreen to their exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. The CDC also provides this guidance about sunscreen:
- Use lip balm and sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. You can choose an SPF up to 100 if you have fair skin or have had skin cancer in the past.
- Make sure the sunscreen you choose is waterproof.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours while outdoors. You should increase this to hourly if you are sweating a lot or you go swimming.
Seek Shade as Much as Possible
You can significantly decrease your risk of sun damage or skin cancer by sitting in a shaded area rather than direct sunlight. If you know the area you will be visiting does not have trees to provide shade, consider bringing an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. According to the CDC, babies six months old and under should always be in the shade outside.
Wear Sun-Protective Clothing, a Hat, and Sunglasses
For the best sun protection, look for lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and wear long pants or a shirt. If this is impractical or would make you too hot, wear a beach cover-up or shorts and a t-shirt instead. Keep in mind that a wet t-shirt offers you little protection from the sun. You may want to bring a change of clothes if you think your shirt will get wet. Another thing to remember is that dark-colored clothing can offer better sun protection than light-colored clothing.
Wearing a hat with a wide brim provides excellent sun protection for your face, neck, and ears. A canvas hat made from tightly woven fabric is a good choice for sun protection this summer. The problem with straw hats is that the sun’s rays can still get through the small holes. Baseball caps offer protection for your head and face, but you will still need a garment over your neck and ears to avoid severe sunburn and other sun-related problems.
Sunglasses are important to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays that can cause cataracts. Wrap-around sunglasses offer the best sun protection because they block the sun’s ultraviolet rays from penetrating the sides of the glasses.
Limit Sun Exposure Between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
The rays of the sun are at their most intense during these hours, so you are better off planning early morning, late afternoon, or evening activities outside if possible. One simple way to know when the sun’s rays are powerful is to look at your shadow. You should seek shade anytime your shadow is shorter than you.
Check with Your Doctor if You Take Certain Types of Medication
The following medication types can make people more sensitive to the effects of the sun:
- Blood pressure medication
If you take any of these classes of medications, be sure to ask your doctor for additional sun safety tips.
Remember These Tips Year-Round
Although you have more sun exposure during the summer, it is essential to be mindful of protecting your skin all year long. Sunscreen is vital, so be sure to stock up on it from our online store as early in the summer as possible.