Did you know that you can get a sunburn even if you are sitting in the shade or on a cloudy day? Did you know that with every sunburn you get, it increases your risk of developing skin cancer and wrinkles? Sunburns are very common with approximately 30 percent of adults and 70 percent of children and adolescents reporting at least one sunburn over the course of a year (www.uptodate.com).
There are several ways to prevent sunburn. One way to do this is to avoid the sun when the rays are strongest (peak hours). Here in Texas, peak hours are between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Planning your outside activities around these times can help you prevent sunburn. If you must be outside during peak hours, make sure you wear sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothing, and find areas that are shaded. Remember, even if you are in the shade, sun rays will reflect off certain surfaces (water, concrete, metal) and can still burn your skin or eyes.
Another way you can prevent sunburn is to pay attention to the daily UV index. This was developed to predict the risk of sunburn in your area based on the weather conditions (www.uptodate.com). The UV index is a number between zero and 11+, and the higher the number, the higher the risk of sun exposure. Information about the UV index in your area can be found at www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-1.
The use of sunscreen is one of the very best ways to avoid a sunburn. One of the most common questions asked during the summer months is “What sunscreen is the best?”. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. They also recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen because this protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember that sunscreen does expire, and sunscreen that has been left in high temperatures (such as in the car or the boat) will become less effective. Sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming, sweating, or rubbing of the skin. It should also be reapplied every two to three hours while outside. Many women use cosmetics or moisturizers that claim to have sun-protective ingredients. It is important to check the labels and make sure they are labeled as having an SPF of 15 or higher, but keep in mind, many of these do not protect against UVA rays (www.uptodate.com). Lips can also get sunburned, so protect your lips with lip balm containing a SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply frequently.
At Village Health Partners we are committed to the health and safety of all our patients. Following these sun-safety tips can help you prevent painful sunburns and help reduce your risk of skin cancer. We hope your summer is full of lots of fun and laughter!