6 Tips to Safely Enjoy the Summer Sun
For many people, summer is synonymous with getting a suntan. Bronzed skin continues to be associated with health and youthfulness, with beaches and pools full of devoted sunbathers, despite the known risks of skin cancer and premature aging. While a little sun exposure is actually healthy to reap the benefits of vitamin D, for the most part, it is important to practice sun safety to avoid harmful skin damage and other health risks.
- Always use sunscreen. A recent study from the American Academy of Dermatology found that the majority of Americans are not regularly using sunscreen. Don’t be a statistic – experts advise to always use sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Choose a broad spectrum, all-natural sunscreen to guard against both UVA and UVB radiation, with a SPF of 30 or higher. Use enough to fill a shot glass (about 1 oz.) and apply 15-30 minutes before exposure. Reapply every 2 hours, or hourly if swimming or excessively sweating.
- Choose full-body coverage. In addition to sunscreen, protect your entire body when spending time outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with at least 99-100% UV protection, and ideally long pants and sleeves, suggests WebMD. Many fashion brands now offer clothing with built-in sun protection, and are designed to wick away sweat to keep you cooler.
- Seek shade. When spending any length of time outside, aim to stay in the shade. Keep an umbrella or pop-up beach tent in the car to have ready if shade isn’t available. Shade is one of the best ways to limit UV exposure, according to the American Cancer Society.
- Avoid peak sun. Since UV radiation is a top contributor to melanoma skin cancer, aim to avoid outdoor activities during the sun’s peak intensity between 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. Evading the most intense heat of the day also helps prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can cause mild to serious symptoms, and even lead to death. Be sure to always stay hydrated, especially when the temperatures rise, to also reduce the risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
- Beware of medications. Many prescription medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and blood pressure medicines, as well as some herbal and natural remedies, can cause sun sensitivity. Ask your doctor or pharmacist, or read the label, and be sure to take added precautions before sun exposure.
- Moderation is key for vitamin D. Many studies have cited the importance of getting adequate amounts of sunlight for its vitamin D-boosting benefits. Research suggests a mere 10 minutes of sun exposure daily on bare skin is enough.
We all feel better when the sun is shining—just be sure to protect yourself with these safety tips while getting your dose of vitamin D!