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Lather Up to Stay Safe in the Sun This Summer

Lather Up to Stay Safe in the Sun This Summer

Lather Up to Stay Safe in the Sun This Summer

Summer is back, and you know what that means. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the great Southwest Wyoming outdoors! Before you head out, take a moment to consider how you can stay safe in the sun.

A great way to do this is to use sunscreen. Though not a perfect solution, sunscreen goes a long way toward protecting you from skin cancer, the most common cancer in America. Cancer isn’t the only threat sunscreen helps minimize. It also helps reduce sun damage that could cause wrinkles.

How Sunscreen Works

As the sun warms your skin, it also exposes you to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays come in three varieties:

  • UVA rays do not get absorbed by the ozone layer. As a result, they reach the deep layers of your skin. Most age-related skin damage is caused by UVA rays.
  • UVB rays, on the other hand, get absorbed a bit by the ozone layer. Despite this, they still get to your skin, causing sunburn on the surface of your skin.
  • UVC rays are the most dangerous UV rays produced by the sun. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about them. Our atmosphere does a great job at absorbing all of them.

Sunscreen protects your skin and keeps you safe in the sun. Some of the chemicals in sunscreen work to absorb UV rays. Others, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, also redirect sunlight.

Spread sunscreen on your skin, and you’ll experience less sun damage, it’s as simple as that. At the same time, you lower your risk for premature aging, sunburn, and skin cancers.

Choose the Right Sunscreen

Some sunscreens only block UVB rays. To guard against damage from sun exposure, look for broad-spectrum protection. Broad-spectrum sunscreen blocks out UVA and UVB rays.

However, no sunscreen stops all UV rays. When choosing a broad-spectrum option, pay attention to sun protection factor (SPF).

SPF indicates how much protection a sunscreen offers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sunscreen with 15 SPF blocks approximately 93% of all UVB rays. Use 30 SPF sunscreen, and your protection increases to approximately 97%. While a 4% improvement doesn’t seem like much, it is significant. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends using sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Use It Right to Stay Safe in the Sun

Like any tool, sunscreen is only helpful if used properly. Stay safe in the sun by sticking to sunscreen best practices.

  • Apply sunscreen before going outside. Cover any exposed area 15 minutes before leaving the house. This gives your skin enough time to absorb the sunscreen, so it can do its job.
  • Cover everything. Your nose and ears get exposure to the sun, and depending on what you’re wearing, the tops of your feet and the backs of your legs do as well. Use sunscreen on every uncovered area of your body to keep the sun’s kiss from turning to a burn.
  • Go waterproof, if appropriate. When you plan to swim, choose waterproof sunscreen. Waterproof sunscreen is also a good idea when sweating.
  • Spread it liberally. The goal is to prevent as much UV radiation as possible. So, be liberal with how much you use. If you’re using less than an ounce of sunscreen on your body, you likely need more. As you spread the sunscreen, rub it in so that it disappears.
  • Use it more than once a day. Whether sweating, swimming or just hanging out, check the label on your sunscreen. There, you’ll learn how often you should use the sunscreen. Reapply as recommended to stay safe in the sun. At minimum, reapply every two hours.

Help Sunscreen Do Its Job

For maximum protection, you can help your sunscreen work its best. In addition to spreading plenty of sunscreen on your body at the right time, you can stay safe in the sun with the following tips:

  • Don’t go to tanning beds. They may not burn you, but tanning beds still damage your skin. Damage it enough, and your skin will age. You may also wind up needing cancer treatment.
  • Stay out of the sun during certain hours. The sun is most dangerous during the middle of the day. To limit skin aging and potential cancers, stay inside during that time. If staying inside isn’t an option, hang out in the shade as much as possible.
  • Wear protective clothing. Long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and a wide-brimmed hat mean less area to cover with sunscreen. Sunglasses give an added layer of protection.

Have questions about your health and staying safe in the sun? Find a provider at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County who can help protect your skin and detect and treat potential problems.