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Are you in the know about sun safety basics?

Are you in the know about sun safety basics?

Mild temperatures and clear days make us want to spend more time outside. Before you head out, make sure you’re practicing sun safety.

You probably know that you need to wear sunscreen when you’re spending the day outdoors, but how much do you really know about staying safe from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays? The LCMC Health team fills in the details below.

How the sun affects your skin

The sun’s rays are made up of UV light. There are multiple kinds of UV rays, and two types, UVA and UVB rays, make it through to the earth’s surface.

Spending time in the sun without protecting your skin can quickly lead to sunburn. Over time, overexposure to UV rays can cause damage to the skin, including signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles, along with an increased risk of skin cancer.

Each year, millions of Americans are treated for some type of skin cancer. That’s why protection from UV rays should be an essential part of your prep before you head outside.

Spend time in the sun, the safe way

The sun’s UV rays can be a hazard, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time indoors during the summer. (Unless you want to, of course!) Practicing sun safety basics can keep your skin shielded while you enjoy the beauty outside.

Brush up on these basics to reduce your risk:

Slather on the sunscreen before going outside. About 20 minutes before going outdoors, apply sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin. Choose a sunscreen that’s labeled as broad-spectrum and water-resistant.

Reapply often. Sunscreen isn’t something you can set and forget! While you’re outdoors, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and more often if swimming or sweating. That last part is important—when you’re outside on our steamy summer days, you will be sweating. Sweating can cause your sunscreen to drip off, leaving your skin unprotected. Reapply to prevent that.

Seek shade when you can. If you’re out in the direct sunlight, it’s going to be hot! That’s reason enough to seek shade, but perching under an umbrella, overhang or even in a shadow can help you protect your skin, too.

Choose your outfit with the sun in mind. While some of our hottest days may have you wearing a bathing suit by the pool or a tank top at a backyard BBQ, you may want to choose sun-protective clothing when you’re out on a hike or otherwise spending a lot of time outside. Long-sleeved shirts and pants can help protect your skin, as can clothing labeled as containing UPF, which is the clothing equivalent of SPF.

Don’t forget your head and face. When you’re applying sunscreen, carefully apply it to your face as well. You may want to choose a sunscreen specifically made for the face if your skin is sensitive. It’s also important to take steps to protect your eyes, scalp and ears. Wear sunglasses labeled as UV-protective, and top off your outfit with a wide-brimmed hat to shield your scalp and ears.

One last tip for you: Tempted to get a “base tan” to protect your skin? Just say no! Any tan is a sign of skin damage, so the only safe tan is a fake one. Tanning beds expose your skin to the same UV rays as the sun, only a more intense version. Even a single session in a tanning bed greatly increases the risk of skin cancer.

Want to check up on your health before the summer rolls in? Schedule an appointment with an LCMC Health primary care provider today.