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Protecting Yourself From the Sun

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Protecting Yourself From the Sun

It’s that time of the year, again. You’ve put away those heavy winter clothes and replaced your boots with sandals. The warm weather and sunshine are beckoning to you. What could possibly go wrong?

Cancer, anyone? Sorry to use the “C” word, but I cannot reiterate it enough. Too much sun exposure increases your chance of getting skin cancer – and that is nothing to play around with. Skin cancer is just as dangerous as any other form of cancer and melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Do yourself a favor and protect yourself from sun exposure. June 5-11 is Sun Safety Week, a reminder for everyone to be extra cautious during the summer.

One way to keep your skin and body safe is choosing a sunscreen that blocks out both UVA and UVB light. Try to stick with sunscreen products that contain either titanium dioxide, avobenzone (butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), or zinc oxide. Products containing Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) or Tinosorb are also good ingredients in sunscreen. Also, make sure the sunscreen has a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 15 (30 SPF is better, but I wouldn’t recommend going much higher than that).

If swimming or doing an activity that causes sweating, use waterproof or water-resistant sunscreen. That way you won’t have to reapply it so often.

You probably already know that if you’re fair-skinned, you’ll need a higher SPF. But, what you may not already know is that darker-skinned people need sun protection too. The melanin that gives color to skin offers limited protection.

During the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. the sun is the strongest. If you need to be outdoors, plan to do so in the morning before 10 a.m. or in the evening after 4 p.m.

The sun can reflect off water, sand, even snow (yes, you need sun protection even during the winter or when it’s raining). Use caution when you’re enjoying the outdoors.

It is important that you remember to apply sunscreen to all areas of your skin that will be exposed to the sun. This includes your scalp and lips, which are often forgotten. Even if you’re just taking a quick drive to the store, you can still get incidental sun exposure.

In addition to applying sunscreen, you may even wish to wear a wide brimmed hat, a thin, but long-sleeved shirt, or even long pants. An umbrella is also a great option for providing added sun protection. Those nineteenth-century ladies with their parasols had the right idea!

Sunglasses are also your friend. Eyelids have very thin, delicate skin. Just make sure they absorb UV rays at least 99 percent of the time.

Insect repellent can weaken the SPF in sunscreen. If you have to keep the mosquitos at bay, use a higher SPF.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Your skin and your body will thank you.