Summer is one of the best times of year! Whether you are going camping, catching a show, or heading to the beach, there is always something to do in the summertime! But all that sunshine can also pose some health risks if you aren't careful. Too much sun can cause sunburn and skin damage, which can put you at a higher risk of eventually developing skin cancer.
Here are some tips to help protect your skin this summer.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. Wearing long sleeves and pants that cover your skin will protect you from the sun's harmful UV rays. This may not be an option on those really hot days, but if it's sunny and cool, consider different wardrobe options that may offer better protection!
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck. Wearing a ball cap may be good for keeping the sun out of your eyes, but it leaves a lot of your head and neck exposed to sunlight. Wearing a wider brimmed hat will protect your ears and neck, two parts of your body that are most susceptible to sunburn; not just because of the sun exposure they get, but they are also the most forgotten about when people are applying sunscreen!
- Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses offer protection to your eyes as well as the skin around them since it is hard to apply sunscreen too close to your eyes. Wrap-around sunglasses work the best, but whatever sunglasses you use, make sure they block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 protection. Sunscreen is your friend! When applying, be sure to apply liberally to any skin that will be exposed to the sun. Don't forget your neck and ears! Use at least SPF 15 for the best protection. Any sunscreen with an SPF above 50 won't offer much more protection, so SPF 15-50 is the recommended range.
- Don't forget to reapply your sunscreen every couple hours or after swimming. Water and sweat can wash away sunscreen, so you should always reapply after you get out of the water. Sunscreen with a higher SPF will offer you longer protection from harmful UV rays, but since sunscreen can wash or wear off, it's always a good idea to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours regardless of how high the SPF is.
- Avoid sunbathing as much as possible and don't use tanning oils. According to the World Health Organization, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. A skin tan indicates the skin has already sustained damage from UV rays and is trying to protect itself. Intentionally sunbathing is equivalent to intentionally damaging your skin, and using tanning oils will increase the damage it causes.
- UV rays can penetrate clouds, so wear sunscreen even on a cloudy day. Just because it is overcast doesn't mean you can't get damage from harmful UV rays, so wear sunscreen or long sleeves for extra protection!
- Avoid tanning beds at all costs! According to the CDC, more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer may be related to indoor tanning in the United States each year. Despite popular perception, indoor tanning is not safer than sun exposure. Remember, there is no such thing as a healthy tan!
Despite the risks, getting fresh air and sunshine can have benefits to your health as well. The sun is a wonderful source of vitamin D and exposure to sunlight can help alleviate depression symptoms. So, no need to fear that fiery orb in the sky! If you follow these safety tips, you'll be ready for fun in the sun!