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Make Your Summer Sun Safe

By Christopher Kelly, PA-C

Summer is here and along with it comes backyard barbecues, days at the beach, baseball games, and myriad other outdoor activities. With each of these ways to enjoy the weather, it is important to remember to properly protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays.

Damage to the skin from the sun (specifically the ultraviolet rays) is a major factor in the development of skin cancer. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas are associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure. Aside from causing skin cancer, sun exposure is also associated with a number of aging effects including:

  • Development of wrinkles
  • Sagging skin
  • Dark spots
  • Thickening of the skin/leathery appearance
  • And More!

And these effects do not require you to be in the sun all day. The CDC states that UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes.

As you prepare to enjoy all that summer has to offer, here are some helpful hints and tips to protect you and your friends and family from all the negative effects of unprotected exposure to the sun.

  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the skin 15 to 30 minutes prior to going out in the sun to allow absorption and full activity of the sunscreen on your skin before exposure
  • Sunscreen should be at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB radiation)
  • Different sunscreen ingredients have differing levels of protection against the different ranges of the UV spectrum, sunscreens that utilize multiple active ingredients (at least 3) are most effective across the entire UV spectrum
  • When applying sunscreen an average person should use approximately 1 oz (the size of a shot glass) to the entire body with each application (a single person should use between one quarter and one half of an 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen during a long day at the beach or other situations of extended sun exposure)
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 1.5 to 2 hours when outdoors for prolonged periods
  • Sunscreen needs to be reapplied immediately after being in the water (many sunscreens are listed as water resistant but none are completely waterproof)

Topics and Subtopics: Skin Health

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