When the sun’s out, so are we. If you live in an area of the country where the seasons change, most folks look forward all winter to the first signs of spring. That first warm breeze, buds appearing on the previously naked branches of the trees…and the promise of summer, where jackets, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants are closeted for the next few months. Of course this translates into increased exposure of our skin to the sun.
Whether there is a conscious desire to expose ourselves to the sun in the form of tanning, or whether we’re at an outdoor event, kids’ baseball or soccer games, etc., chances are we’re going to be under the sun for a few hours at a time at certain points during the summer…if not more often. Though many of us desire to rid ourselves of the winter “pales” and add a little color to our skin, precautions must be taken in order to protect ourselves from overexposure to the sun, and the possibility of developing some form of skin cancer.
This is not something we like to think too much about when “fun in the sun” is on the horizon on a warm, beautiful day, but it is necessary to take steps to diminish the effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays on our skin in these circumstances. UVA are the most common rays that we are exposed to from everyday sunlight…and potentially the most dangerous. It is commonly thought among scientists and researchers that these rays penetrate beyond the top layer of skin, and can cause tissue damage…thus increasing the risk of skin cancer.
There are many common-sense ways to avoid overexposure to the sun: wearing light, loose clothing to cover the skin, wearing hats (wide-brimmed, if possible), seeking shade wherever possible, and avoiding sun exposure during peak hours (12-4pm). But as a failsafe, the most common method of avoiding exposure of UVA rays is the use of sunscreen.
It is recommended that a minimum of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 be applied to the skin at least 20 minutes before sun exposure…or more commonly, SPF 30. Obviously, the higher the SPF, the more protection. Applied liberally throughout the day, sunscreen will help protect you and your kids from dangerous UVA rays…and is especially valuable in situations where you are unable to avoid sun exposure.
Though many of us relish the feeling of the warming sun on our skin, take care to avoid too much exposure to our celestial friend. And, remember to keep drinking fluids all day long to help keep you vital during these summer months.