(RxWiki News) There's no better way to enjoy the summer than to get outside in the sun. But it's important to keep sun safety in mind while you're enjoying the heat.
Sun exposure can promote vitamin D production and make you feel great, but too much sun can lead to sunburns and skin damage. And too much sun exposure can increase your risk for some types of skin cancer.
The good news is that there are ways to stay safe while enjoying the sun. Read on to learn more.
How Does a Sunburn Occur?
Melanin is what gives your skin its color. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or from tanning beds and sunlamps, your body produces more melanin as a form of protection. This is why you may notice a tan when you get some rays.
Sunburns occur when you are exposed to a great amount of UV light that exceeds the ability of melanin to protect your skin.
Sunscreen is a great way to protect your skin from sunburns while you're out in the sun.
When selecting a sunscreen, make sure to select one that:
- Is broad spectrum. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen ensures you are protected from both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). Both UVB and UVA can lead to skin aging, sunburn and skin cancer.
- Offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. SPF is used to represent how much the sunscreen will protect your skin from becoming sunburned.
- Is water-resistant. These types of sunscreen stay on longer if you get wet or start to sweat. Even though it may be water-resistant, it will still need to be reapplied. Follow the directions on the label to know how often to reapply.
Sunscreen can protect your skin from the sun's rays, but only if it is applied correctly. When applying sunscreen, make sure to:
- Apply at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, especially before getting wet.
- Apply sunscreen to skin that is exposed. This includes your face — especially your lips, nose, ears, neck, hands and feet.
- Reapply at least every two hours. Reapplication of sunscreen is typically required more often if you are getting wet or if you are sweating.
- Apply to your head if you do not have much hair. Wearing a cap or hat is also recommended.
Other Ways to Stay Safe in the Sun
Sunscreen is a fantastic way to protect your skin while you're outside, but there are other precautions you can take:
- Reduce the time you spend in the sun. This is particularly important when the sun's rays are the strongest, which is typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Dress appropriately. Dress to protect your body from the sun's rays. This means wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants. Furthermore, using an umbrella is recommended. You may consider wearing clothes or outdoor gear that offer sun protection. Check the label for ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes. When selecting sunglasses, make sure they:
- Offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection. Sunglasses that are more expensive do not necessarily offer more protection.
- Are labeled as sunglasses. Children are recommended to wear real sunglasses versus toy sunglasses that do not offer UV protection.
More Sun Safety Considerations
Before planning your day at the beach or by the pool, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Babies and children need extra precautions and sun protection. In fact, infants under the age of 6 months should have limited sun exposure.
- Just because the sun is not out does not mean you're in the clear when it comes to sunburns. It is quite the opposite — you can still get a sunburn on cloudy days because UV rays can pass through clouds.
- Some medications may increase your sensitivity to the sun and result in sunburns. Examples include certain antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, which include doxycycline, and fluoroquinolones. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the medications you take may increase your sensitivity to the sun.
If you are concerned about your sun exposure or risk for skin cancer, reach out to a trusted health care provider.