We all look forward to the summertime for barbecues, ball games, getting together with friends at the park, or escaping to the nearest beach for the warm sand and cool breezes. Summer is a time for outdoor leisure and recreational activities. It’s all about having fun, being active, and soaking in some vitamin D.
But spending all that time outside, as you bask in the sunshine, poses a threat when it comes to the health of your skin. The sun poses a cancer risk with too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays are invisible and come from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays damage skin cells.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. But you can have fun in the sun and still protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Protection from UV rays is important throughout the year, but it is during the summer season that we are by far most exposed to the sun’s rays. It doesn’t matter if it is a cloudy and cool day, the sun’s UV rays can still negatively affect your skin. Keep in mind that UV rays reflect off surfaces like water, cement, and sand. These UV rays are usually at their peak from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Ways to Protect Your Skin From UV Rays During the Summer
You can have it made in the shade, having a great time but seeking cover from those UV rays. What’s more, you can significantly lessen your risk of skin cancer by staying in the shade – under an umbrella, for example. Also seek shade under a tree or other shelter. Any cover that shields you from the sun’s rays should give you adequate protection from the sun.
Maybe you want to have fun under the sun. So, wear clothing that protects your skin. You can choose long-sleeve tops and pants composed of lightweight, tight weave fabrics, as these types of clothes offer the best protection. You’ll also find that many swimsuits and rash guards have UV protection built-in and are designed to stay cool and fashionable when you’re at the beach or poolside.
You also have the option of wearing garments that are specially designed to block UV rays. They carry an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating to indicate how well they filter out the sun.
You could wear a wide brim hat to shield your head and face from the dangerous UV rays. Hats are especially helpful if you have thin hair or no hair. With respect to hats, wear a hat that has a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. It is best to choose a hat made up of a tightly woven fabric like canvas in order to adequately protect your skin from the UV rays.
It is important to know that your eyes are especially sensitive to UV radiation. What’s more, over time, sun exposure can lead to eye damage, cataracts, and potentially cancer to the eyes and the skin surrounding your eyes.
As far as sunglasses are concerned, look for ones that have labels that offer 100 percent UV protection and select styles that cover the sides of your eyes, like the wrap-around styles.
The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends selecting a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for maximum effectiveness. The SPF number tells you the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. It is worth noting that the higher SPF numbers give you more protection, however, the higher it is, the smaller the difference becomes. Sunscreen with an SPF 30 filters out approximately 97 percent of UVB rays. SPF 50 blocks about 98 percent, and SPF 100 about 99 percent. Keep in mind that there is no sunscreen that protects you completely.
In order to thoroughly protect your skin from those strong UV rays, opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen – it protects you against both UVA and UVB rays.
UVB causes sunburn, which is actually an injury to the top layer of the skin. UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, and that causes premature aging, as well as skin cancer. Be aware that products that are not broad spectrum must come with a warning that they only protect against sunburn, and not skin cancer or skin aging.
You are likely going to be enjoying water of some type for outdoor fun, whether that is the ocean, a swimming pool, or a lake. It is important to know that no sunscreen is waterproof or sweat proof. Some sunscreens are water resistant. If a product’s front label stipulates that it is water resistant, it must specify whether it lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
If you want maximum protection, reapply sunscreen at least every couple of hours and perhaps more frequently if you are swimming or sweating. Your sunscreen typically comes off when you towel yourself dry, which means you will need to reapply.
Be aware of the expiration date of your sunscreen. The majority of sunscreens are good for two to three years. However, if your sunscreen has been exposed to heat for a long period of time, it may not be as effective at protecting you from the sun’s rays.
Have Fun in the Sun & Protect Yourself
This summer, as the weather turns warmer and you enjoy the sun-drenched days at the beach or at a park, or anywhere fun calls you, you can take safety measures that will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Whether it is lathering on plenty of sunscreen on your skin, wearing the right clothing, or donning a wide-brim hat and sunglasses, you can look forward to plenty of exciting times this summer while protecting the health of your skin.
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