Enjoy a safe summer from the sun by protecting your skin

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Spending time outside in the summer is a great way to stay active, reduce stress, and get vitamin D. It’s also important to make sure your skin is protected while you’re outside.

Too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer — the most common cancer in the U.S. Most skin cancers are caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which can damage skin cells.

Protecting your skin from UV rays is important all year round, not just in the summer. You can still be exposed to UV rays on cloudy or cool days.

Here are steps you can take to protect your skin from the sun:

Sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that filters out two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a thick layer of sunscreen to all areas that will be exposed to sunlight at least 20 minutes before going outside.

It’s also important to reapply your sunscreen because it gradually wears off. You’ll need to reapply it if you’re in the sun for more than two hours or if you go swimming, sweat, or towel off.

Make sure your sunscreen hasn’t expired. Its shelf life is no more than three years and may be shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.

Sunglasses: In addition to protecting your eyes from UV rays, sunglasses also protect the more delicate skin around your eyes from the sun’s rays. Most sunglasses sold in the US block both UVA and UVB rays.

Hats and clothing: A hat with a brim that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck provides the most protection. Canvas works best, and you should avoid straw hats, which let in too much sunlight. If you wear a baseball hat, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck with clothing, sunscreen, or staying in the shade.

Long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can also give you some protection from UV rays. Clothing made from tightly woven fabrics offer the best protection, as well as dark colors.

Shade: You still need to wear sunscreen or protective clothing when you walk outside in the shade. Staying under an umbrella, tree, or other cover can help you reduce the damage caused by the sun’s rays and your risk of skin cancer. It’s also important to rest in shady areas when you’re outside for long periods of time.

Other ways to stay safe from the sun include planning activities in the morning or late afternoon, to avoid maximum sun exposure.

Sunburn: Sunburn usually appears four hours after sun exposure, gets worse for about 24 hours and then gets better within 3-5 days.

Treatment: You can take over-the-counter pain relievers to relieve sunburn pain. Applying aloe or moisturizer as well as a cool, wet cloth may also provide relief. It is important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

If you have blisters, don’t pop them. Tie a loose bandage over the area to prevent infection. If you have a sunburn on more than 15% of your body, have pain that lasts more than 48 hours, or have a fever over 101 degrees, consult a doctor.

If you are sunburned, avoid spending long periods of time in the sun until your skin heals.

Provided by University of Kentucky

Citation: Enjoy a sun-safe summer by protecting your skin (2024, June 11) Retrieved June 11, 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-06-sun-safe-summer-fun-skin.html

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