Summer time may be winding down, but there are still plenty of sunny days left for those outside activities! Please review the following tips to prevent sunburn, sun damage, and even skin cancer that can result from long exposure to the sun.
Times to avoid
If you can avoid it, stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you do have to be outside at midday, minimize the amount of time in the sun and the amount of your body that is exposed.
Apply plenty of sunscreen, SPF 30 or above. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, meaning SPF 30 when applied properly will allow you to be in the sun 30 times longer than the time your unprotected skin takes to burn. “Broad spectrum” sunscreen refers to the kinds of UV rays the sunscreen is designed to block. You need to be concerned with both UVA and UVB rays, which are both blocked by broad-spectrum sunscreen.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends about one ounce of sunscreen to protect an adult’s skin. That’s about enough to fill your cupped hand. Because it takes 15 minutes to absorb into your skin and provide protection, sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied liberally every two hours (even waterproof or water-resistant kinds) or after sweating or swimming.
Minimize the amount of skin that is exposed to the sun. Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat (baseball caps don’t cover your ears) and wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and pants if possible. When you go swimming, look for rash guard swimming suits that are sun-proof. If you go out on the water, on a boat or swimming, be aware of the magnifying effect of the sun on water.
Eyes need protection from UV rays, too. Sun exposure can cause cataracts to form many years after the damage is done. Get sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays and make sure your kids also wear them.
Plan it out
Take the time to get your sun protection toolkit together before you head out the door. Pack a bag with hats, sunscreen, and long-sleeved shirts and keep it in your car. Spontaneity is good and warm weather is even better! Planning can help you and your family stay protected.
Have an annual exam
Finally remember to have a yearly skin exam as an additional measure to prevent and detect skin cancer and other sun-related conditions. For comprehensive care from all skin care, visit IowaSpecialtyHospitals.com for more information.