Summertime is the season of vacations and fun. If you’re like most people, you’re probably going to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Going outside and exercising is a great way to stay in shape and meet your weight loss goals, but in order to do that, you’ll want to keep all of your body healthy, including your skin. Taking advantage of the beautiful, hot weather is definitely the right choice, but be sure to protect against sunburn.
A sunburn is not the way anyone wants to end an enjoyable summer’s day. There are many adverse consequences of sunburned skin that go beyond the usual painful stinging and unsightly redness. In this article, we’ll tell you how to keep your skin protected from the sun this summer, maximizing fun while minimizing negative effects.
A Little Info About Sunburn
Pretty much everyone knows that if you stay outside in the sun too long, your skin will turn red. But, there’s a lot more to a sunburn than that. Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These UV rays are invisible—they’re more powerful than the actual sunlight we see—and when they hit the skin, they cause damage to the DNA in our skin cells, breaking them down leading to tissue damage and causing some cells to die. When the body senses that cells are dying (a process known as apoptosis), it starts to inundate the skin with an inflammatory response. This leads to the red, burned, painful look you get when you have a sunburn.
It’s scary to know that the sun can actually radiate your cells to death, but, actually, the cell death is important to preserving your health. When the cells become radiated, they sense that they’re starting to mutate (Hadhazy). The apoptosis occurs as a way to prevent the body from being poisoned (Hadhazy). However, you should absolutely seek medical attention if you have a fever, chills, intense pain, headaches, fainting, confusion, nausea, vomiting, or dehydration, as these are all signs that you might have sun poisoning (The StayWell Company, LLC).
Sun Safety Tips
Now that you know more about sunburn, the question of how to prevent sunburn and skin damage remains. Luckily, a lot of research has gone into helping improve summer skin safety, and scientists have come up with some simple, yet very effective, tips.
First and foremost, wear a layer of clothing to cover up exposed areas of skin and and use sunscreen. The recommended SPF (Sun Protection Factor) level, as advised by the American Academy of Dermatology, is 30 SPF or higher (Dorfner). You should apply it at least every two hours, and make sure to apply it more frequently if you’re swimming or perspiring. Even if the day is cloudy, apply sunscreen, as the UV rays are still able to penetrate the clouds and cause damage. In addition to sunscreen, you should also wear sunglasses and a hat of some sort, as the sun doesn’t just damage skin; it also can damage your eyes and lead to cataracts (Dorfner).
The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10am and 2pm, so try to avoid going outside during that time, and, if you do, reapply sunscreen frequently. If you have a child that is six months old or younger, he or she cannot wear sunscreen, so if you have to take them outside, keep them in the shade.
Safe Sunscreen, Safe Skin
There are many brands of sunscreen, so it might be overwhelming to decide which one to select. Remember that at least 30 SPF is recommended for skin safety (Dorfner). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a few other recommendations for purchasing the best possible sunscreen, advising that people look for brands that have UVA protection in the form of ingredients such as oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, or zinc oxide (Griffin). If you have kids, make sure the sunscreen is labeled as kid-friendly. Also, if you have sensitive skin or a skin condition, check with your doctor that the sunscreen won’t cause an adverse reaction.
Exercising outdoors is an awesome way to stay in shape, but you can’t forget skincare. Using these skin safety tips, you can make sure that you and your family are well-protected from harmful UV rays, all while being able to go outdoors and enjoy the weather. Sunburn is all too often thought of as an inevitable part of summer, but it doesn’t have to be. Enjoy the sunshine—safely!
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Dorfner, Micah. 9 Tips to Protect Your Skin This Summer. 06 05 2015. Web. 15 07 2018.
Griffin, R. Morgan. What’s the Best Sunscreen? . 2018. Web. 15 07 2018.
Hadhazy, Adam. Science of Summer: What Causes Sunburns?09 07 2013. Web. 15 07 2018.
The StayWell Company, LLC. Sunburn (Sun Poisoning). 2017. Web. 15 07 2018.