The Midwest’s mild winter has us fully prepared for summer which is just around the corner! It is always good to refresh our memories on the importance of sun safety to make sure we get to enjoy every minute of sunshine this summer. The sun’s UV-rays reach the earth’s surface and can cause short and long term damaging effects to your skin. One sunburn may not seem like a big deal, but repeated damage to the skin can be a recipe for serious complications down the road, like skin cancer or premature aging.
Top 5 Ways To Protect Your Skin This Summer:
5. Wear Protective Clothing
Wearing tightly-woven, long sleeved shirts and pants offer the least exposure to the harmful suns rays. However, this may not be the most ideal in the warm summer heat. At a minimum, aim to wear dry, loose fighting clothes that are lighter in color. Some clothing now offer a UV-sun protection factor (SPF) but these are not regulated by the FDA and cannot guarantee any protection.
4. Stay In The Shade
Try to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun by seeking shade if possible. Always carry an umbrella with you incase there is no shelter or trees around to help shade sunlight. The sun is most dangerous between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Make sure to use the best protective measures during this time!
Using a hat is the easiest way to protect your face, ears, and neck from prolonged sun exposure. Straw hats should be avoided because they still allow sun to penetrate through cracks. A wide brimmed hat made of tightly-woven material that covers your ears and neck is your best choice! If you wear a baseball hat, be sure to cover exposed areas like the ears and neck with a good sunscreen.
When choosing a pair of sunglasses, you should look for a pair that offers 100% UVA and UVB protection. The darkness of the lenses does not mean they are more protective. A pair that wrap-around can protect sun from sneaking through the sides of the frames. Wearing sunglasses whenever you are outside can help decrease your risk for cataracts and decrease the risk of damage to the tender skin around your eyes.
1. Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen
Applying sunscreen is the easiest and most important way to make sure you protect every inch of skin on your body. Even on cloudy days it is still important! Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before you go outside and should be reapplied every two hours, after swimming, or sweating. A thick layer should be applied to all areas of the body that will be exposed to the sun and ask for help in hard-to reach places, like your back. In general, a sunscreen with higher SPF offers better protection. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and if you have fairer skin, you may want to consider SPF 30-50.
Written by Maria Zhorne, PharmD Candidate 2013, Drake University