How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun? Venture Out into the Sun Carefully; Slather Sunscreen Fully

Young woman who forgot the sun tan lotion

Woman putting sun tan lotion on man at the beach

Sun lotion and sunglasses on the beach

Have fun in the sun this season, but protect yourself and your loved ones from various diseases of the skin, such as skin cancer, and the premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. Many times, when you see individuals with old, wrinkled skin, the damage is not so much due to the age of the individual but rather how careless they have been protecting their skin from harmful UV rays.

Here are quick sun safety tips you can employ immediately to protect your skin in the sun and out of doors.

1. Use sunscreen–One of the most critical sun safety tips, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to use sunscreen before you go outside-at least 15 minutes to one-half hour before going out. Use a sunscreen with a SPF-Sun Protective Factor-of at least 15. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) goes further and recommends the use of an SPF of 30, and it recommends that the sunscreen be of the “broad-spectrum type. This sun safety tip is not just for the summer on beach days. The CDC suggests that sunscreen is needed all year around. Why? Ultraviolet (UV) rays are with us summer and winter, rain or shine and will reach your skin on a cloudy day as well as a sunny day. UV rays not only hit you directly from the sun, but also reflect off of snow, sand, water and cement and pavement. The reason that the AAD recommends a “broad spectrum” sunscreen is because that will offer protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours. The AAD suggests looking for products with the AAD Seal of Recognition on products that meet the above-mentioned criteria.

2. Don’t skimp when applying sunscreen–One of the key sun safety tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to apply about an ounce of sunscreen to your face and body. An ounce is the amount of liquid in a shot glass. Don’t be spare with the sunscreen when applying it is an important sun safety tip–the more the better. Don’t forget to reapply it every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Don’t count on the sunscreen that claims to be waterproof–it isn’t. Sunscreen needs to be applied generously and all over your body. Sadly, there have been many cases of people developing melanomas (a deadly for of skin cancer between their toes and on their eyelids. Why? When the typical person applies sunscreen, they may coat the top of their feet with the liquid but not the whole foot; they will put sunscreen on their nose and cheeks but neglect the eyelids because they do not want to get sunscreen in the eyes. Take extra care and prepare before you go out into the sun.

3. Wear protective clothing–Another of the key sun safety tips is that while it may be fun to walk around the beach clad only in a bikini, covering up with protective clothing is the way to protect your skin and keep it youthful. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. There are specially made beach clothes that offer UV ray protection. As another sun safety tip, before you put on your beach clothes, apply sunscreen when going to the beach even if you will keep those clothes on. A light cotton shirt, for example, offers a little sun protection but it by no means blocks out all UV rays.

4. Wear a hat–One of the key sun safety tips is to wear a hat with a wide brim all the way around so that your face, ears, and back of your neck are shaded, according to the CDC. A darker rather than lighter hat offers more UV protection. If you insist on wearing a baseball cap, you may protect the top of your head but now you need to do something about the delicate skin on your ears, the back of your neck and face.

5. Always seek shade on a bright, sunny day–The sun’s rays in the United States are strongest from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. That is the time of day when you should be in the shade to protect yourself from the strongest UV rays. Naturally, you can sit under a large umbrella on the beach during that time of day but you are still getting large doses of UV rays from the water and from the sand. On many islands deep in the Caribbean and further south, you will not see a person on the beach during the hottest time of day because they have learned to keep out of the intense light and heat during these times.

6. Protect your children and babies–Watch your children closely at the pool, beach or out in the snow. Kids get involved in what they are doing and lose all track of time. They too need a new coating of sunscreen every two hours, more often if they are sweating and they probably are! It is difficult if not impossible to make kids wear clothing on the beach so make a plan to take them out of the sun during the most dangerous time of day. Take them to beaches or recreational areas where there are indoor activities to occupy them. Let them swim up until 10 a.m., then get them interested in some indoor activity or game.

7. Use extra cautions near snow, beach or lake–The sun is intense by itself as far as UV rays go but when you are in the sun and near a lake, beach or snow, you will receive an intense dose of UV rays through reflection off of a bright surface.

8. Take Vitamin D–Make a habit of taking Vitamin D supplements or eating foods rich in Vitamin D every day. Vitamin D has been shown to protect people from certain types of cancer.

9. Never use a tanning bed–The World Health Organization recommends that no person aged 18 years or less use a tanning bed because of the associated increased risk for skin cancer. In addition, CDC recommends that school programs to prevent skin cancer advise students to avoid using sunlamps and tanning beds.

10. Protect your eyes, wear sunglasses and make your kids wear them too—-You can lather up your body with high SPF sunscreen but the only way to protect your eyes is with sun safety sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses will protect you against cataracts and also protect that area of skin close to the eyes where you cannot apply sunscreen without getting the liquid in your eyes. You need sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunglasses you buy today meet this standard. Go with wrap-around sunglasses because they prevent UV rays from coming around the sides of your face. A very effective way to protect your face, therefore, is to apply a high SPF sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun, where a wide-brim hat and wrap-around sunglasses, during the brightest time of day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), seek shade.

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