It’s summer. The weather is warm. And the sun is out…let’s talk about proper sun protection.
Last month was Skin Cancer Awareness Month and June 26th was National Sunglasses Day, but the truth is, when it comes to sun safety — we should remain vigilant regardless of the day or month. Ultraviolet radiation, or “UV”, is a form of radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer, premature aging, eye damage, and a weakened immune system. Sun is also a vital source of Vitamin D. Being mindful about how we enjoy the sun is important. And sun protection strategies should be utilized to enjoy the sun responsibly and safely.
Want to soak up summer’s sunny days with friends, family, and neighbors? To do so safely, follow our tips below.
1. Don’t forget the sunscreen
It may sound obvious, but it’s worth a reminder – to protect against excess UV rays, applying sunscreen is a must. Sunscreen routines should be established at a young age to develop life-long habits and prevent damage. Children as young as six months should be wearing sunscreen every day. And due to their highly sensitive skin, babies under six months should be kept out of the sun completely.
2. Use the proper SPF
Wearing sunscreen is the first step. But choosing the right sunscreen and the appropriate attire can make all the difference between sufficient protection from the sun and a bad sunburn.
To avoid those painful sunburns, pay attention to the SPF levels of sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that folks use SPF 15 every day they go outside. Whether you’re at a baseball game, a family BBQ, a park, or just outside for an extended time, SPF 30 or higher is recommended. And don’t forget to reapply! Sunscreen’s effectiveness wanes over time, so it’s a good idea to reapply ever 2 hours for maximum protection.
3. Dress for the sun and the clouds.
Hot days may give an illusion that it’s better to wear less clothing to stay cool. In fact, wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs not only keeps you cooler, but also provides UV protection. Additionally, hats to cover your face or the faces of young children should be worn when the sun’s out.
Even when clouds are present, UV rays can still reach your skin. Sometimes the worst sunburns occur on cloudy days, as folks believe they’re in the clear. Don’t let your guard down just because the sun appears covered. It can still do damage.
4. Wear those sunny-g’s!
While often neglected, eyes need protection from the sun too! Sunglasses should be worn year-round, not only as a summer accessory. The tissues that make up our eyes are some of the most sensitive in the body, and even short-term UV exposure can damage your vision and deteriorate your overall eye health.
To protect your eyes from UV rays, look for sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection and polarization. Sunglasses also serve a dual purpose – protecting your eye tissue while also shielding the skin around your eyes from potentially harmful rays. When in doubt, throw on a pair of sunglasses.
Outdoor outings with friends are the best, and when the weather cooperates, it’s tough to beat soaking in that summer sun. Just remember that by adding these sun protection tips and reminders to your routine can help protect against skin, eye, and broader health issues in the future. Let’s do what we can to protect ourselves and our families from harmful sun damage – our older selves will thank us. And please consult with a dermatologist and optometrist today to find the sun safety methods that work best for you.