Summer is just around the corner — a time when many of us enjoy fun in the sun. Although research shows that spending time outdoors is associated with good health and well-being, it’s important to keep safety in mind when you spend time in the sun.
People with darker skin do not sunburn as easily; however, everyone can get skin cancer and serious melanomas. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sun exposure is also to blame for up to 90% of the visible signs of aging. That’s why everyone should take steps to protect their skin.
Kimberly Petrick, MD, a family medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente Santa Monica Medical Offices, recommends that you wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 30 or higher to prevent skin damage. Ensure that your sunscreen is “broad-spectrum” to protect yourself from ultraviolet A and B, known as UVA and UVB, rays.
Going to the beach or pool? Be extra cautious around sand and water, warns Dr. Petrick, as these surfaces can reflect 85% of the sun’s rays.
“If you are going to go into water, consider water-resistant sunscreen,” said Dr. Petrick. “Either way, continue to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, because sunscreen does wear off. If you are going to be in the sun for more than 2 hours, no matter what the activities are, bring extra sunscreen with you for some touch-ups.”
She also recommends following these tips to stay safe during summertime fun.
- Reduce your time in the sun during peak hours of UV radiation from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find shade if you need to be outdoors. You can find how much UV exposure you are getting by using the shadow rule. If your shadow is longer than you, then UV exposure is low. If your shadow is shorter than you, then UV exposure is high.
- Wear protective clothing, including:
- Wide-brimmed hats that protect the face and neck
- Tightly woven clothes made of thick material, such as unbleached cotton, polyester, wool, or silk
- Dark clothes with dyes added that help absorb UV radiation
- Loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothes that cover as much of the skin as possible
- Clothes with SPF in the fabric that doesn’t wash out
- Use a protective lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your lips from getting sunburned.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB radiation, because your eyes can get sunburned, too.
- Avoid artificial sources of UVA radiation, including sunlamps and tanning booths.
“Taking simple precautions will help ensure that you can enjoy your summer without putting your health at risk,” said Dr. Petrick. “That way, you’ll have fun, be safe, and avoid sunburn, which can spoil an otherwise perfect day!”