Tips For Safe Sun

Spring Break is almost here! Time to grab your cutest bikini, a best seller novel, and…. your sunscreen! Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? So don’t risk your health for a summer glow, especially when you can do these easy things to keep yourself safe.

1.       Stay in the shade for some of the day. We know you want to tan as much as you can while on Spring Break, but too much sun can be harmful. Simply staying out of the sun, especially when the sun is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, will decrease the UV ray exposure, and thus reduce the damaging effects. So get under an umbrella or a shady tree for a couple hours to give your skin a break.

2.       USE SUNSCREEN! If you can’t stay out of the sun, then you should ALWAYS wear sunscreen. The American Cancer Society recommends using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, which screens out 97% of UVB rays. Sunscreens with SPF lower than 15 only help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging. In addition, unless your sunscreen states that it is “broad spectrum sunscreen”, you are only being protected against UVB rays, and not UVA rays – so wearing sunscreen is not an excuse to stay in the sun longer. Also, check the expiration date on your bottle because over time sunscreen products lose effectiveness.

3.       Apply sunscreen properly. Make sure you apply sunscreen every two hours, after going in the water (sunscreen is NOT waterproof), and apply it generously. About a shot glass or palmful should be used on your arms, legs, neck, and face. Apply sunscreen before applying your makeup, and make sure to cover all your skin, including your feet, ears, and lips.

4.       If you aren’t sun tanning, and are just being active outside, wear clothing that protects you against UV rays. Look for dark clothes and cover the most skin, and for fabric that does not let light through. Some brands even make clothes with a special coating to help absorb UV rays. It’s also a good idea to wear a hat with a brim all around to protect your face from intense sun.

5.       Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Spending time in the sun without protecting your eyes increases your chances of developing certain eye diseases. So pick up a pair of sunglasses that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. If there is no label, your glasses probably do not provide any UV protection. Larger framed glasses are most successful at blocking light at more angles.

6.       Examine your skin before you start tanning. Be aware of the moles, freckles, and birthmarks on your body and over the days you are in the sun, look for new growths, spots, and sores. If any of your marks grow, this could be a warning sign. If you have any moles that fit these ABCDs, have a doctor check them out:

 A.      Asymmetrical: Is the mole oddly shaped?

B.      Border: Does the mole have irregular or vaguely defined borders?

C.      Color: Does the mole have uneven coloring or multiple colors?

D.      Diameter: Is the mole larger than a pencil eraser or is growing in size?

7.       Drink water! Being in the sun is dehydrating, and sweating, drinking alcohol, and drinking sugary drinks dehydrates you even more. So make sure to drink water after every alcoholic drink, drink more water than you are sweating, and continually drink water. Staying hydrated will help your skin stay healthy and keep you from passing out after a day in the sun.