Save your skin from sun damage

GEHA | June 10, 2021

health and wellness sun safety
UV rays from the sun can harm skin after just 15 minutes of exposure.

It doesn’t take long for the sunshine to start damaging your skin. Ultraviolet, or UV, rays from the sun can cause harm after just 15 minutes of exposure.

Before heading outside for fun in the sun, remember these tips.

Slip on protective clothing. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, when possible. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. Wet clothes offer less protection than dry clothes. A wide-brimmed hat not only shades your face, but easily forgotten places like your ears and scalp. Avoid straw hats or other head coverage that lets sunlight through.

Slide on sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses not only look great, but shield your eyes and protect the delicate skin around your eyes. When shopping for quality sunglasses, look for a pair that can block 99% or 100% of UV rays.

Slather on the sunscreen. Sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering sunlight and protects the skin from UV rays. Look for a broad spectrum with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 15 or higher. The larger the number, the stronger the protection. Remember, sunscreen isn’t a force field. It should be reapplied every couple of hours or after swimming or drying off. Sunscreen works best in combination with other measures, such as protective clothing and hats.

Stay away from tanning. Indoor tanning is not safer than sun tanning. Sunlamps, tanning beds and tanning booths all expose you to intense UV rays, increasing the risk of skin cancer and damage.

Stick to the shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schedule outdoor activities before or after that time or try to find places with shade if you must be out for extended periods of time in this window. One option is to bring a beach umbrella and create your own shade.

Study your skin. Look for new moles, bumps or scaly spots. Skin cancer is easier to treat when detected early, so watch for any unusual changes and talk to your doctor when you notice them.

Special considerations for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests babies under 6 months avoid sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats if the baby will be outside for an extended period of time. It is OK to put sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater on the face and backs of hands if protective clothing and shade are not options.



Sources:
“7 tips for staying safe in the sun.” womenshealth.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 14 June, 2015.
“Tips to stay safe in the sun: From sunscreen to sunglasses.” fda.gov, Food and Drug Administration, 21 February, 2019.
“Skin cancer: Sun safety.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 April, 2021.
“Action Steps for Sun Safety.” epa.gov, Environmental Protection Agency, 9 May, 2019.