Soak Up the SPF: Ways to Protect Yourself from UV Rays This Summer

Authored by Dr. Jeff Bennert

When summer approaches, people flock to beaches and resorts to enjoy a bit of swimming and sunbathing. Tourists and families love to spend a lot of time outdoors during the warmer months, which means the chances of getting painful sunburn or even sun poisoning increase. The sun plays an integral role in providing light, energy, and life to the planet, but it can also be extremely dangerous thanks to the UV rays it emits. In order to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun, it’s essential that you take a few simple steps to keep your skin safe. Skin cancer is a serious problem and is one of the most common forms of cancer that can be deadly if gone undiagnosed or untreated. With some simple protective measures, you can enjoy spending time in the sun while keeping your skin safe from dangerous UV light.

Find a Shady Area

Staying out of direct sunlight is one of the best ways to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. When you’re at the park or the beach, look for shady areas to congregate. Whether it’s a large tree or a beach umbrella, staying under shade will help keep the UV rays to a minimum. If you do decide to hang out in direct sunlight, try to only do so for a limited amount of time before heading back to your chosen shady spot. Beach umbrellas are a good choice when you’re sitting on the sand and will keep your body shaded well. Covered picnic areas or a grassy spot with large trees should provide ample shade when you’re enjoying time outside with friends and family.

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Cover Up

Even though it’s hot outside during summer, covering your skin is one of the best ways to keep it protected against cancer-causing UV rays. Look for lightweight options that will keep you cool and won’t cause you to get overheated. Cotton is a soft, breathable fabric that will protect your skin while staying comfortable. A lightweight beach cover-up is a good choice when you’re finished swimming so you can at least provide a light layer of protection to your skin. Wear light colors that reflect the sun’s light rather than dark ones that will absorb it. It’s not always feasible to be fully clothed in the heat of the summer, but choose something that’s breathable and will keep you cool while providing you with ample protection.

Apply Sunscreen

Sunscreen is your best defense against the sun’s UV rays. It comes in all kinds of forms, from lotions and oils to aerosol sprays. The SPF value ranges anywhere from 5 to as high as 50 or more. Apply a medium-to-high-SPF sunscreen each and every time you’re out in the sun, making sure you cover the face, arms, back, and neck. You will need to reapply sunscreen after swimming. Another layer should also be reapplied every two hours to ensure that you’re still being protected, even if you are not in the water. Sunscreen is integral to combating the sun’s harsh rays and should always be applied, regardless of circumstance. It’s the best tool to protect yourself and your loved ones when you’re spending time outdoors.

Wear a Hat

Wearing a hat is another excellent way to give yourself added shade when out in the sun. Choose a hat with a wide brim that will provide extra protection for your face. There are hats with included flaps in the back that cover your neck to keep it protected as well. Your scalp is highly susceptible to getting burned, and it’s often a part of the body that gets overlooked until it’s too late. Hats will give you the coverage you need to protect your head and face when you’re out enjoying the sunshine.

Limit Exposure

One of the most proactive ways to avoid sunburn and skin cancer is to limit your exposure to the sun. If you feel a tingling sensation on your skin, it’s an indicator that you should get out of the sun as soon as possible. Try to only stay in direct sunlight for about 15 to 30 minutes at a time before going inside and taking a break. Drink plenty of water so your body stays hydrated and cool. Children’s time in the sun should especially be limited, since their skin is much more delicate and prone to getting sunburned much more quickly than most adults. Keep cool and stick to the indoors when you feel overheated or when you’ve been in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. Avoid sunbathing for long stretches, and try not to use tanning booths, which will only increase your chances of getting skin cancer. Enjoying the sunshine is a great way to spend the summer, and with a few extra easy steps, you can protect your skin from damage.