Sun safety tips for staying safe this summer
Summer is here in North and South Carolina and for a lot of us, that means spending more time outdoors. Last month, we wrote about the health benefits of spending time outside. While you are out living life boldly, it’s important to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. To help you make the best of your time outside, here are a few sun safety tips to protect your skin and eyes from the sun this summer.
How does the sun affect our skin and eyes?
Some sunshine is good for you. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains that “being outside in green spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle, which has been shown to increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and reduce cancer risk.” Being outside also allows your body to create vitamin D. According to Harvard Health, vitamin D may have protective effects against osteoporosis, cancer, depression, heart attacks and strokes.
But chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun can be harmful. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain, UV is invisible radiation from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps that can damage cells, and according to Atrium Health, skin cancer, early aging and cataracts can be a result of UV damage.
How can you protect your skin from the sun?
1. Stay safe by wearing sunscreen
Protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen. Look for broad-spectrum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) sunscreen and buy sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. However, sunscreen alone cannot offer total protection. To get the best results, it should be combined with other efforts.
Here are a few tips to get the best results from your sunscreen:
- Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outside.
- Use at least one ounce of sunscreen on your body and a nickel-sized amount on your face.
- Check the expiration date on your sunscreen. If there is no expiration date, it should be less than three years old.
- Store your sunscreen inside. It can lose effectiveness when exposed to heat.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or toweling off.
2. Protect your skin with clothing
Clothing can provide even more protection from UV radiation. Wear long sleeves and pants, when possible, to protect your skin from damage. You may even be able to find clothing that’s been specifically designed for UV protection. As the Skin Cancer Foundation explains, these fabrics are usually treated with chemical UV absorbers or dyes to prevent some penetration from UV rays.
Here are a few tips for selecting clothing to protect from the sun:
- If wearing a brimmed hat, look for one that extends three inches all the way around and is made of a tightly woven material.
- If wearing a baseball cap, apply extra sunscreen to your ears and the back of your neck
- Synthetic fibers such as polyester and rayon offer the greatest protection because they reflect radiation.
- Wear dark or bright colors to keep UV rays from reaching your skin.
- Choose loose-fitting apparel if possible. Tight clothing can stretch and reduce the level of protection offered by stretching to allow more UV light through.
3. Get proper sun exposure by seeking shade
One way to make sure you’re enjoying the sun in a safe and healthy way is to make good use of shade. When you go out, be aware of the times when UV rays are the strongest. In most of the U.S. the sun is strongest from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. During these times, seek extra protection from the sun by bringing an umbrella, sitting under a tree, or looking for shelter. Be aware that UV rays are still present even on cloudy or shady days, so don’t skip out on sunscreen or protective clothing even in the shade.
How can you protect your eyes from the sun?
Sunglasses are the best way to protect your eyes from UV damage. Large, framed sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection for the tender skin around your eyes. Most sunglasses filter out both types of radiation, but you can check the label on your glasses to be sure.
Here are a few additional tips:
- Get wraparound sunglasses to protect both skin and eyes.
- Hats can help protect eyes too.
- Choose whatever tint you like! Darker sunglasses do not provide better protection.
We offer more vision safety tips in a previous blog post.
We hope these sun safety tips can help you take advantage of more time outside this summer while feeling safe in the sun. If you have any questions about the information presented in this blog post, give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711). Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.