Protecting yourself from the sun’s harsh rays can help reduce your risk for skin cancer or sun damage. You don’t have to avoid the sun completely, especially if you limit physical activity by staying indoors. Here are some steps you can take this summer to protect yourself. Additionally, the heat from these hot summer days can lead to dehydration and heat stroke. While usually preventable, this can lead to further illness and even require medical attention.
Here are some tips for staying safe even on the hottest summer day.
- Seek shade during the harshest sunlight. During the hours of 10 am to 4 pm, the UV light is strongest. Even if you don’t feel like you are getting burned, your skin may still be getting damage.
- Lather on the sunscreen. Sunscreen that blocks uva/uvb is important. It is crucial to consider that even though you are wearing sunscreen, it doesn’t block all rays.
- Choose the right sunscreen. Many sunscreens have chemical ingredients in them. One of these chemicals is oxybenzone which can penetrate the skin and get into the bloodstream. Many of these substances can act like hormones such as estrogen and can cause skin allergies. Mineral sunscreen is a safer option (with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). These non-toxic minerals don’t penetrate the skin. Avoid these toxic chemicals:
- Buy the right SPF. To figure out the best SPF for you, consider your skin type. Fair skin=10 minutes, olive skin=15 minutes, dark skin=20 minutes. Multiple this number by SPF of your sunscreen to see how long you would have sun protection. I.e. Olive skin (15) x SPF (15)= 225 minutes (3.75 hours) of sun protection. Be careful of choosing super high SPF’s. For anything over SPF 50, the amount of protection it offers is negligible.
- Reapply after water or sweat. Water-resistant sunscreens have a time limit. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least once every two hours. More frequently when swimming or sweating. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you will be in the sun.
- Drink plenty of fluids during the day, especially when exercising or in the sun. Make sure that others in your family especially kids and elderly adults stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Look out for signs. If you notice you are feeling dizzy, lightheaded, fever, vomiting, or other signs get out of the sun and drink water. If you have a very high fever or feel confused then seek medical attention immediately.
Still need some help in choosing the right SPF for you or your kids? Visit the EWG’s guide to sunscreen here.