By Brianna Bell
Picture this: It’s one of the first warm summer days of the year, and you’re itching to get outside. The geraniums are in bloom, and the trees finally have grown back their leaves. You head outside to enjoy some much-needed Vitamin D—while social distancing, of course—and when you get home, you notice your arms are pink and hot to the touch. You forgot to wear sunscreen!
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in only 15 minutes. It’s important to always protect your skin from the sun, as well as to check the UV Index, which measures the strength of UV rays and will indicate which level of caution to use in the sun.
According to The Cleveland Clinic, there are a few risks of unprotected sun exposure, including:
Sun damaged skin, which weakens skin
Premature aging of the skin, or that “leathery” look
Skin that bruises more easily
Skin cancer, the most common of all cancers
Practicing sun safety is important for adults and children. Below are a few ways you can ensure you’re enjoying the outdoors safely.
Sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin from the sun, but it certainly is an important step. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use sunscreen every day, all year round?—yes, even on cloudy or colder days. The best sunscreen is broad-spectrum (protects from UVA and UVB rays), is water proof, and contains an SPF of 30 or higher. It’s also important to reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re still outside. Expensive sunscreens are not necessary for sun protection—generics at the drug stores will work just fine. If you need some guidance on which to purchase, your pharmacist can help.
You can enjoy the outdoors, while still avoiding direct sunlight. Stick to shady spots, under trees, umbrellas, or other shaded structures. It’s also best to avoid direct sunlight when the UV rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Young children should especially stick to the shade, and babies under 6 months (who cannot wear sunscreen yet) should never be exposed to direct sunlight.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and appropriate eyewear when you go outside in the sun. Sunglasses that filter UV rays are the best for eye protection. And don’t worry about looking for high-end options: You can purchase UV-protected sunglasses for under $10 at Walmart.
While there are expensive UV-protective clothing on the market, you can simply wear regular clothing that is tightly woven, and darker colors are better for UV protection. If you can, wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
Remember that getting outside is good for you, as long as you are cautious and practice sun safety!
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