August is Summer Sun Safety Month. Spending time outside is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress, and get vitamin D. You can work and play outside without raising your skin cancer risk by protecting your skin from the sun by following these tips:
- Sunscreen – Before going outside, always apply a waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. Pay particular attention to easily missed areas of your body, such as your ears, the tops of your feet and the part in your hair. Also, remember that sunscreen wears off, so you’ll need to reapply it every two hours, as well as after you swim or sweat.
- Clothing – The best way to protect your skin from sun damage is to cover it with clothing, including a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt and long pants made of a tightly woven fabric. Of course, wearing this type of clothing will be impractical if you’re swimming, so be sure to keep a T-shirt or rash guard on hand to cover up with while you’re in the water.
- Hat – Protect your head, ears, face, and neck with the shade of a wide-brimmed hat constructed of a tightly woven fabric like canvas (UV rays can penetrate a straw hat). If you wear a baseball cap, be extra careful to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
- Sunglasses – Protect your eyes by wearing wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays (most sunglasses sold in the U.S. meet this requirement, regardless of their cost). Well-designed sunglasses can help shield your eyes from damaging UV rays, prevent cataracts and protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the harmful effects of sun exposure.
- Shade – Seek shade underneath a shelter, umbrella, or tree, especially during the mid-day hours. Even if you are in a shaded area, though, you should still protect yourself with sunscreen, clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Water – Be sure to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. While this is always important, it is critical when you are spending time in the sun.