Summer is in full swing and warmer days means more time spent outside at the pool or the park. Time in the sun leads to an increased risk of sunburn and sun-related skin damage. A nasty sunburn is not only painful, it is dangerous, and is easily preventable with some basics precautions.
Unfortunately, most of us have experienced a sunburn. Too much time in the sun without proper precautions will lead to a burn where your skin turns red and hurts. In some cases, it can be extreme and you can develop swelling and sun blisters. You might even feel like you have the flu with nausea, a headache, chills, and general weakness. After a few days, your skin will start to peel an itch as your body rids itself of the sun-damaged cells, but there are long-term effects even after the burn has faded.
All of the above can be avoided if you take the following steps.
1. Minimize time in the sun.
Be a clock watcher! 10 am to 4 pm are the peak hours for sun exposure. It is best to avoid being in the sun between these times and if this is not possible seek shade as much as you can. Of course be sure to follow the next two steps if you plan to be out in the sun.
2. Wear Sunblock.
It is very important to wear sunblock if you are going to be out in the sun. However, there are a few general rules when buying and applying sunblock that cannot be neglected.
- Use only broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
- Make sure the sunscreen is SPF 30 or above
- Replace your sunscreen every year as it expires and is no longer as effective.
- Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Even if it is cloudy out, you need to apply sunscreen
- One application is not enough. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours — or more often if you’re heavily sweating or swimming.
3. Wear proper clothing to prevent sun exposure.
Preventing sunburn can be fashionable and fun.
- There are plenty of UV protected clothes to choose from that are both practical and fashionable. Make sure that the clothing is at least 30 SPF when purchasing. Choose garments that cover as much skin as possible and that you will wear – a heavy shirt at the beach is not going to last long. A linen shirt or a rashguard are perfect options. If you do not have any specific UV protected clothes on hand, just be sure to choose cotton garments that have been washed a few times before you wear them to allow the fibers to shrink and prevent more sun exposure.
- Wear a hat! A wide-brimmed hat is best (at least 3” in diameter) that will create shade on your face, neck, and ears.
- Sunglasses are another fun and important sunburn preventing fashion statement.
The above steps will help to assure you have a fun and safe summer. But if you do find that you or a loved one has been exposed to too much sun and is experiencing any of the following signs, be sure to head to Our Urgent Care for treatment.
- Fever of 102 degrees or higher
- Severe pain
- Sunburn blisters that cover 20% or more of your body
- Extreme thirst, reduced urination, dizziness, and fatigue, which are signs of dehydration