Have Fun in The Sun While Using Skin Protection

Summer is officially here, and you know what that means- more time spent having fun outdoors in the sun. While it’s great to get your vitamin D (especially after the long winters here in New England), skin protection protocols are also incredibly important. After all, over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people each year in the United States alone. [1] Not only can you be at a higher risk for skin cancer, but it’s also a well-known fact that too much sun exposure can significantly age the skin. [2] To minimize these risks, here are 5 ways you can protect your skin from the sun.

1. Sunscreen/Sunblock

A study from 2011 consisting of 1,621 participants showed that using sunscreen can reduce the chances of developing melanoma by 50-73%. While genetic makeup can play a massive role in determining the likelihood of developing the cancer- sunscreen can significantly help reduce the risk. Aim for sunscreens that provide SPF 30+ with BOTH UVA and UVB protection, and don’t forget to re-apply at least every hour for optimal skin protection (even more frequently if you’ve been swimming or sweating). [3]

2. Hats

Many people often forget to protect their scalps while out and about. Because sunscreen can make hair greasy and uncomfortable- hats are the next best option. Make sure that your hat fuller covers the scalp (that means no visors). In addition to covering your scalp, hats can also add a little more skin protection to the face and neck!

3. Sunglasses

Protecting the eyes is also incredibly important, and often overlooked (no pun intended). The sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays can cause eye conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygium, and even cancer. Choose lenses that cover a large portion of the eye area, with coverage extending around all of the skin around the eyes. Also, it’s important to make sure the lenses offer both UVA/UVB protection- sunglasses at stores will often have stickers on them stating this. If the lenses do not have a tag or sticker on them stating UVA/UVB ray protection, it’s best to look for sunglasses that do. [4]

4. Stay in the Shade

This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the splendors of the outdoors if you protect your skin- it just simply means that you should seek to be in the shade for the majority of the time. Peak sun exposure hours are generally between the hours of 10 AM—4 PM, with UV rays being the strongest around noontime. So after getting the recommended 15 minutes (10 minutes for fair-skinned people, 20 minutes for those with darker complexions) of sun, start lathering up on sun-lotion, and head for the shade. It will also help to cool your body down! [5]

5. Chapstick with SPF

Not only does chapstick keep the lips hydrated, but using a chapstick with SPF 15 or higher (preferably 20-30 SPF) can offer lip skin protection. Lips can also be subjected to skin cancer, so make sure apply every time your lips start to feel dry. This goes for men, too!

6. Protective Clothing

Although it can get pretty hot outside, protect your skin further by wearing the right clothing. At the risk of sounding obvious- clothes can significantly decrease your chances of developing skin cancer. Be conscientious of areas of the body that can often go forgotten—wear t-shirts that cover the shoulders, and shoes that cover the tops of the feet. Just remember that if you’re not going to cover it with clothing, coat it with lotion!

Have fun in the sun this summer- but just remember to play safe!

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25928283

 

[2] http://www.who.int/uv/publications/en/primaryteach.pdf

 

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21135266

 

[4] https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/sun

 

[5] http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/heart/articles/2008/06/23/time-in-the-sun-how-much-is-needed-for-vitamin-d

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