Article written by Meaghan Canton Feder, NP, Department of Dermatology
Tips on how you can stay safe in the Summer Sun!
Summer is officially here and that means it is time to slather on the sunscreen. Like many people, I love the sun. But whether I am chasing my two toddlers around the playground, spending time with them at the beach or pool, or on a Saturday morning family walk, I always wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses—and I make sure my husband and children do the same. It is important to teach children early on about safe sun practices and never too late to start practicing them yourself. Ultraviolet sun rays can cause skin cancer, eye damage and premature aging. Here are some ways to help protect yourself and your family from the harmful rays while still enjoying the summer sun.
Choosing a sunscreen can be overwhelming. Should I buy a physical block or a chemical block? Should I use a spray, lotion or stick? The key to sunscreen, however, is simply to use it. Sunscreen is essential for preventing both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Use a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection or broad spectrum sunscreen and a sun protective factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside, reapply every two hours, and reapply after swimming or sweating. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays decreasing the amount penetrating into your skin. They rub in to your skin more easily and are more likely to hold up to their SPF claim. La Roche Posay, with Mexoryl, is a great option. Physical block sunscreens lay on top of your skin and act as a barrier, deflecting the sun. They are great for kids and people with sensitive skin or who prefer chemical-free sunscreens. Cerave and Aveeno baby lotion are great options. Note, however, that babies six months of age or younger should not use sunscreen. Staying out of the sun or using protective clothing is best for that age group.
Sunscreen lotions, sprays and sticks are all great choices. For lotions, you need to use at least two tablespoons of sunscreen lotion to protect your whole body. Sunscreen sprays should be sprayed into your hands and then rubbed in to your face and body. Never spray directly into your face. Sunscreen sticks also need to be rubbed in for even distribution.
Wearing protective clothing is another important component of sun safety. Your clothes are the first line of defense from the sun. Look for clothes with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). The higher the UPF the better. Always wear a hat, preferably one with a wide brim. Keeping the sun off your face is the #1 way to avoid wrinkles.
Of course, do not forget to wear sunglasses. Exposure to UV rays over time may cause cataracts and macular degeneration. It is particularly important to protect the eyes of children under age 10 because they are at higher risk of vision and other eye damage as result of UV exposure. Look for sunglasses that block 99 – 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. For children, make sure the sunglasses are durable with plastic, scratchproof lenses.
Importance of Vitamin D
Many people worry they will not get enough Vitamin D if they protect themselves from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and other aspects of wellness, but it does not take much sun exposure to get the right amount. The human body absorbs sufficient vitamin D from 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure, two to three times a week. That does not mean you have to skip the sunscreen to get Vitamin D though. No sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UVB rays, so even with sunscreen your body will get Vitamin D. You can also get the recommended daily dose of 600 IU of vitamin D from eating fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified milk and cereal.
Have a wonderful summer and take care of yourself in the sun!
Healthy App of the Month - Sunwise UV Index
Summer holidays mean more time outside enjoying sunny weather, but sun safety is key when thinking about skin health. Sunwise UV Index, a mobile app created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), predicts ultraviolet radiation levels on a scale of one to 11+. The Sunwise app delivers information on changing weather conditions in specific locations, giving useful, up-to theminute tips and reminders on how to stay safe in the sun. This app is free, and available for Apple and Android devices.