Summertime Sun Safety

Whether your summer vacation plans involve a trip to the beach, some quiet time on a golf course, or camping and hiking, make sure you protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.  Following are 10 tips to keep your skin safe:

  1. Wear clothes.  Cover your skin with long sleeved shirts and pants when possible, and don’t forget a hat!
  2. Know the signs of skin damage.  Sunburns may seem like a temporary irritation, but they can cause long-lasting damage to the skin.
  3. Find shade – or make it.  Sit under a tree or take a canopy or umbrella along to keep out of the sun.
  4. Plan around the sun.  Schedule outdoor time early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.  UV radiation peaks at midday when the sun is directly overhead.
  5. Protect children.  Children are particularly vulnerable.  Babies under six months old should never be exposed to the sun as their skin is not yet protected by melanin.  Babies older than six months should be protected and wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes.
  6. Don’t be fooled by high SPF numbers.  Sunscreens with anything higher than SPF 50 may tempt you to stay outside too long, suppressing sunburn but not other types of skin damage.  Stick to SPF 15 to 50 and reapply often.
  7. Remember that ingredients matter.  Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and contaminates the body.  Instead, look for ingredients like zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX.  These protect the skin and remain on the skin without penetrating the body.
  8. Real men wear sunscreen.  Only about 34% of men wear sunscreen (compared to 78% of women).  Don’t let machismo lead to melanoma!
  9. Get your vitamin D.  Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, which the skin manufactures in the presence of sunlight.  You can increase your vitamin D by spending a FEW minutes in the sun without sunscreen.  Supplements are also available.
  10. Sunglasses are essential.  They protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts. They’re not just a fashion accessory, so don’t go out without them!

From an article written by a registered nurse in Employee Benefit News, June 1, 2011 issue, p. 16.