The sun has a bad reputation these days and in some ways, rightly so. Too much sun exposure can make you look old before your time. It can give you sunstroke, heatstroke, sun poisoning and cancer.
While all that is true, we need the sun to survive. We also need it to make vitamin D in our bodies and — let’s face it — the sun feels good.
As long as we don’t overdo it, and as long as we protect ourselves, we can have a lot of fun in the sun this summer.
The bad parts of the sun are its harmful rays - namely its UVA and UVB rays. The UV stands for ultraviolet. The A stands for the longwave rays and the B are shortwave rays.
Both types of rays cause skin cancer and it’s thought that UVA contributes significantly to premature aging. UVA rays filter through the earth’s atmosphere far more than UVB.
But despite these dangers, there’s no reason to hide from the sun completely. Limited amounts of sun exposure can help with vitamin D production. The sun is warm and comforting for many people — an easy and free mood booster.
Sunscreen is one of the best defenses against the sun’s harmful rays, but not all products are alike. CBS News recently ran a story about new, troublesome research that shows a third of sunscreens aren’t offering the level of protection they claim.
The study, conducted by Consumer Reports, found that of the 34 brands they checked, 11 made false claims of protection — anywhere from 11 to 70 percent less than the packaging said. This could highly impact a person’s skin in terms of exposure and burns.
For more on that study, click here.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that we “use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will be not be covered by clothing. Ask yourself, 'Will my face, ears, arms, or hands be covered by clothing?' If not, apply sunscreen. Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen”
The Academy also recommends reapplying sunscreen every couple of hours.
Clothing and hats need to be considered when you're going to be out in the sun. While a baseball cap helps somewhat, a wide-brimmed hat can keep the sun off the entire head, neck and shoulders. A light silk scarf or shawl can also protect the skin. Linen or cotton are good choices for clothing in hot weather, keeping the body cool and looking good at the same time.
Large umbrellas and tents at the beach or pool are really great ways to stay in the shade. Swimming and games in the sun can be a lot of fun, but heading back into the shade can keep skin from burning and aging prematurely. Deck umbrellas and even walking umbrellas are also important to keep the sun at bay.
Sunglasses with UV protection is a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes and off part of your face, too. Make sure your glasses have proper protection. There’s also a great range of cool glasses for kids and babies.
Start them young so they’ll be used to eye protection early. They'll look extra cute, and you won't look too shabby yourself!
And finally — when possible, stay out of the sun when it’s really hot.
Skin Cancer.org advises that you “...protect yourself from UV radiation , both indoors and out. Always seek the shade outdoors, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM. And since UVA penetrates glass, consider adding flat, tinted UV-protective film to your car's side and rear windows as well as to house and business windows. This film blocks up to 99.9 percent of UV radiation and lets in up to 80 percent of visible light.”
Remember to love the sun but not worship it! Use common sense this summer so that this season (which always seems like the shortest!) can be enjoyed to its fullest.
Skin Cancer.org. “Understanding UVA and UVB.” Web. Retrieved July 10th 2015.
The American Academy of Dermatology. Sunscreen FAQ’s. Web. Retrieved July 22nd 2015.
CBS News.”Some sunscreens don't live up to their SPF claims”. Web. Retrieved July 10th 2015.
Reviewed July 22, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith