When it was fall, you wore a coat. When it was winter, you wore a jacket. When it was spring, you wore a cardigan. Now that it is summer, you wear nothing…but a bathing suit; however, this isn’t all you should be wearing, a vital component has been forgotten: sunscreen and sun protection. Unfortunately, many people neglect the application of sunscreen as a time consuming ritual. As a result of this laziness, people put themselves at a higher risk of:
- Premature aging
- Weakening of the immune system
- Cataracts (if you don’t wear full protection sunglasses)
- Melanoma (skin cancer)—the deadliest form of cancer
Every skin tone has its own needs; for example, someone of a fairer complextion will need a higher SPF sun lotion and will be more prone to a risk of sun burns, ultraviolet rays, and skin cancer than someone of a darker complextion. In any case, all skin types need protection. Below are a few tips on how to stay safe in the sun.
- Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15, and higher if you’re of fairer skin.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours because between sweating, rubbing against clothing, and/or swimming you are sure to lose protection.
- If you are staying out in the sun for more than 4 hours, it is recommended that a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher is used
- The sun’s rays are strongest between the times of 10am and 4pm, so seek shade whenever possible (or become an internet addicted hermit…I find it keeps my skin looking extra young…)
- You may think that when you’re in the pool feeling cool that you’re safe from getting a sunburn. FALSE! What is really happening is that you are swimming in your own cooking pot. Yup! In fact, by being in water, the suns UV rays are intensified and can lead to a rapid, more harmful sunburn. Haven’t you ever wondered when you go to the beach why you get a tan really quickly? This is why.
- Sand is comprised of reflective rocks and shells so it is one of the stealthy ways you can get burned.
- Snow! Who knew that this cold friend could give you a sunburn? Yes, we realize that you won’t be seeking any wandering snow flakes in the summer, but this is a piece of information worth knowing.
- If you don’t have to be in the sun, don’t be.
- If you are bald, wear sunscreen on your head… and a hat if you are extra worried.
- For children under six months of age, try to keep them out of the sun as much as possible because they are too young to have sunscreen applied. For children six months and up dress them up in long, lightweight pants and a t-shirt being sure to use sunscreen SPF 30 and up on all areas that will be exposed and have them wear a wide-brimmed hat. Even then, don’t let them stay out in the sun for too long because they have a hightened risk of getting melanoma.
- Before tanning ask yourself this question: Is it really all that necessary for you to go tanning? If it is, then schedule regular visits to your dermatologist to check for any signs of skin cancer.
- Melanoma is easily detectable by finding a new or changing mole of dark coloring on the skin. If you aren’t certain about a mole, ask your doctor or dermatologist to check it out for you.
Now…it seems very reasonable that you may translate this blog post as telling you what a product of evil the sun is…but look at it this way: moderation is key; even by consuming too much water—as good for the body as it may be—it could end up being a thing of danger. Therefore, despite our warnings of possible death (dot, dot, dot), going blind (dot, dot, dot), looking like you’re 60 at 16 (dot, dot, dot), and possibly dying from the common cold due to overexposure (dot, dot, dot) by all means it is a good thing to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day (no sarcasm intended)! It gives you Vitamin D which can reduce your chances of getting multiple sclerosis and reduce the duration of time you have the flu. Physically, the sun can aid the immune system (again, moderation is key), increase metabolism, build up the skin’s resistance to eczema, psoriasis, and acne, and lower cholesterol! Have we mentioned that moderation is a key element in this whole process? No matter what you decide to do this summer, be sure to have a safe and happy one!