Summer is finally approaching and the weather is definitely getting warm! Now is the perfect time of year to spend time outdoors with our family and friends, but it’s also the time of year to take extra precaution to protect ourselves from sun, insects, and irritants. There has been an increase in awareness of the harmful effects of sun damage as well as a strong new desire to find a skin protectant that will protect our skin effectively without harmful side effects.
Applying sunscreen on a sunny day may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a lot to know about how, when, and what type of sunscreen to apply. It’s also important to know your risk factors for sunburn and skin diseases. Fair, pale skin is much more sensitive to the sun’s rays than someone with dark skin. If you have a family history of skin cancer or have been treated for skin cancer in the past, taking extra precaution in the sun can help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Sunscreen basics: Apply sun screen 15 minutes before going into the sun, and opt for a broad-spectrum and high SPF lotion to get the best protection. “Broad-spectrum” refers to certain sunscreens that have passed the FDA’s test for eliminating a significant amount of UVA and UVB rays from contacting the skin. The SPF of a sunscreen is the degree to which the sunscreen can protect the skin from sunburn; the higher the SPF, the longer your skin will stay protected (SPF of at least 15 is recommended).
Don’t forget these commonly forgotten locations
• Tops of ears
• Tops of feet
• Backs of hands
• Back of neck
• Scalp where the hair parts or if you don’t have much hair, apply all over the head or wear a hat.
• Lips: choose a chapstick with SPF to keep the sensitive skin on your lips from burning
• Eyes: although you obviously cannot apply sunscreen to your eyes, that doesn’t mean that they can’t get damaged from the sun. When spending time outdoors, bring a pair of sunglasses that offer UV protection.
Certain medications, such as medications used in treating arthritis, can increase a person’s chance of sunburn, rash, and in some cases melanoma. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the biggest troublemakers, which can interact with the sun and leave skin more vulnerable than usual to ultraviolet rays. TNF inhibitors have also been associated with an increased risk of melanoma.
Take extra care of a child’s skin in the sun. High SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen works best when applied 15 minutes before going outdoors and should be used each time the child goes outdoors. Choosing a waterproof sunscreen is great for children especially when swimming or sweating.