Everyone loves a day of fun in the sun, but unfortunately some of the possible side effects, like sunburns, are not so welcome. Information on the dangers of skin cancer is now widely available, and dermatologists and doctors have provided several simple ways to protect against the ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer. This information about sun damage isn’t meant to keep us from enjoying the sun. Instead it’s meant to give us the tools to protect ourselves and our family while enjoying all of the benefits a day in the sun can provide. Following these simple steps is simple and doesn’t take much more than the thought. Make these rules a habit and it will become second nature in no time.
1. Wear Sunscreen
Sunscreen application should be a staple when it comes to spending a day outside. Even if your skin rarely burns, it needs SPF of at least 15. Damaging UV rays don’t always result in a burn, so remember to apply and reapply sunscreen when spending a day outdoors.
Parents: If sunscreen is part of your routine before leaving to go to the pool or the water park, it’s much easier to make sure you’ve applied it thoroughly. Antsy, jittery kids make for a hasty application of sunscreen!
Another important note: Wearing a white tee shirt as a substitute for sunscreen does not work. When a white tee shirt gets wet, the amount of sun protection it offers is less than an SPF of 5.
2. Wear Sunglasses
Do you ever think about protecting your eyes from UV rays? You and your children should be wearing sunglasses that provide 100% protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays. The label will indicate how much protection the sunglasses provide. If the label doesn’t list protection percentages it probably doesn’t have any. Regular tinted sunglasses can actually cause more damage to your eyes, because the dark tint causes your eyes to dilate and allows more light to pass into the eye. This can cause serious permanent damage such as blindness. Luckily, wearing sunglasses is a quick and stylish fix for protecting your eyes.
3. Wear a Hat
Wearing a hat provides shade for your face and blocks out most of the sun directed at your face. It also blocks UV rays from hitting the top of your head, and if you’ve ever had a scalp burn, you definitely know it’s a pain you never want to experience again. It also helps block the sun out of your eyes, which not only protects them, but also prevents a headache from squinting. If you’re fair-skinned even the highest SPF protection and sunscreen reapplication won’t always keep you from getting burned. Wearing a hat is a sure and safe bet.
4. Limit Exposure Time
If you have a full day of plans and gorgeous weather, you want to enjoy all of it without worrying about sun damage. However, it’s a good idea to take a break from the sun or limit your time spent in direct sunlight. Try to eat a meal or take a break in a shaded area when possible. Reapply your sunscreen and try to measure your exposure. Maybe it’s time to enforce wearing a hat!
5. Know that UV Rays Penetrate Clouds
Did you know that you can still get UV damage on an overcast day? Both UV-A and UV-B rays penetrate the clouds and reflect off of pavement, sand, snow, and water. The only way to fully protect yourself is by taking the same sun-protection steps you would on a bright day. That means wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat even if it doesn’t feel like you need it.
But don’t get down about the possible dangerous effects of the sun. There are also numerous benefits of sunshine. In addition to boosting Vitamin D levels, the sun can improve your mood on a psychological level by reversing seasonal depression. A nice sunny day will get you outside and active, which is always healthy and smart. Luckily, protecting yourself is simple. Teaching your children sun safety tips at a young age will instill a lifelong habit of using sunscreen, wearing protective sunglasses, and being a good judge of how much sun is enough for one day.