The weather is getting warmer, and people are starting to spend more time outside. This is overall a good thing—staying active and soaking in the sun has many health benefits. However, since the sun can be so damaging to the skin, contributing to things like skin cancer, you need to protect your skin if you plan on being outside for an extended period of time.
Ever since you were little you (or your parents) probably lathered sunscreen on. After years of well-published research into the dangers of sunburns, most people are aware of the risks and take steps to prevent burning. But of course, it’s easy to let things slip, and sunburns are all too common.
Learning to care for your skin before you spend time in the sun will ensure that your skin is safe while you are enjoying warm weather. So to help you brush up on your skin protection basics, here are the best ways to save your skin from sunburns this summer.
Avoid being outside when sunlight is the most intense
During the hot summer months the sun can get pretty intense. In fact, if you live at a higher elevation your skin can start to burn in as few as 20 minutes during mid-day.
The peak hours during which you are at highest risk for sun damage is from 10 am to 4 pm. It is important during these hours to either stay out of the sun or protect yourself with sunscreen. Even with adequate protection, seek out shade and drink plenty of water.
Shade is your friend
It’s actually still possible to get a sunburn while in the shade (because of reflecting sunlight), but it definitely slows down the process. Shade not only helps protect you from the harmful rays of the sun, it helps you cool down when you might be at risk of heat exhaustion.
On especially hot days, it can be helpful to take frequent breaks from being in the sun. Have your kids come in for snacks, plan inside activities, or if you are out and about in the city, step in an air-conditioned store every 20 minutes or so. This will help keep you cool and protect your skin at the same time. Shade will ensure that your skin is safe while you are enjoying warm weather.
Certain parts of the body get sunburnt more often than others. This includes the face (particularly upper cheeks, nose, and forehead), ears, shoulders, and arms. By wearing a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt, you can reduce eliminate the risk of sunburn on much of your body. If you’re going to be out in the sun a long time, you may still need sunscreen on your face, since reflected sunlight can still burn your skin.
On hot days it may not be practical to wear a long-sleeved shirt. Just remember to use sunscreen responsibly, and practice cooling techniques so your body doesn’t overheat (such as dabbing your forehead with a wet cloth, drinking plenty of water, and seeking out shade).
Lather sunscreen on you and your children
Sunscreen of at least 15 SPF is a great tool to use for preventing sunburns. You’re never too old to use sunscreen, but babies and young children may require special sunscreen that is hypoallergenic. For infants under 6 months old, the Mayo Clinic recommends keeping them out of direct sunlight and covering them up with protective clothing, rather than using sunscreen.
For best protection, apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before going out into the sun. Re-apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day (at least every 2 hours that you remain in the sun), and be diligent when it comes to hydrating yourself and your children.
If you are going to be getting wet or swimming, then a good water-proof sunscreen will do the trick. Just remember to apply it 15 minutes before getting in the water. If you are wearing a swimsuit, then don’t forget to cover all your skin that is exposed to the sun (which could take a lot of sunscreen).
All it takes is a few sunburns to increase the chances of getting skin cancer. Protect yourself and your children by using sunscreen and protective clothing, and by avoiding being out in the sun during peak sunlight hours.