Spring is in the air, which means summer is waiting behind the wind and rain. And this means its time to think about keeping you and your family safe from the sun. Each year, incidences of skin cancer rises and the number one cause is excess sun exposure. The problem is that it can take years for the damage from ultraviolet rays to show up, and when they do, they are certain to bring with them more than just wrinkles.
If you have children, you should be extra careful by following sun safety tips. Even 15 minutes in the sun, can lead to a sunburn in a child or those with sensitive skin, causing lifelong permanent damage. Consider that every time you or your child gets a sunburn, they are increasing their risk of skin cancer in the future tenfold. And, remember that just because it isn’t bright and sunny doesn’t mean that sun damage isn’t possible. There are plenty of ultraviolet rays on cloudy days that can do damage to you and your family’s skin.
The first sun safety tip, is one more of habit. Instead of only thinking about the sun when you are going on vacation or are spending the day outdoors, think of it every day. After you shower, get your family in the habit of using a skin moisturizer that has sunscreen included. You should look for a sunscreen of at least a SPG of 15, and that helps to block both UVA and UVB rays. Look for products that perform double duty. For instance, your foundation may include a sunscreen that will help you keep your face protected all year round. There are plenty of mild moisturizers safe for your children (over 6 months) that they should use daily. Also, don’t forget the lips! A day outdoors can wreak havoc on your lips. Purchase lipsticks or chap sticks that have an added sunscreen.
As a side note, remember that using sunscreen on an infant or baby is not recommended. Before applying any sunscreen to your baby, consult with a pediatrician. There are several brands of sunscreen available for babies, but you should definitely check first. Since babies cannot use sunscreen – your only choice is to keep them covered up with clothing, umbrella or in the shade.
There are other sun safety tips as well. Following are the top ten things you can do, along with wearing sunscreen, which you can do to keep you and your family safe from the sun.
1. Plan your outing so that you aren’t out in the heat of the day. UV rays are at their strongest during the midday hours, around noon to 2pm. If you can avoid being outdoors during this time, you will lessen your exposure a great deal. On vacation at the beach? Take your lunch during this time. If you must be out during this time of day, make sure that you have an umbrella or are able to find some relief from the sun under a huge shade tree.
2. Cover up! Wearing clothes that cover your skin, in addition to wearing sunscreen can help keep your skin protected! There are many products that are made of lightweight material designed to keep you cool, that also block out the UV rays of the sun. The vast majority of them will work when wet, unlike a t-shirt. Also, think cover-ups when you are out in the sun. The more skin you can protect the better.
3. Wear a hat! In fact, every member of your family should wear a hat. And while a ball cap will help shade your face, it does leave your ears vulnerable. Incidentally, the ears are a common trouble spot for skin cancer. Find a wide brimmed hat that will shade your ears, face, and even the back of the neck. If you cannot bring yourself to wear a big hat, and then make sure you apply sunscreen to the areas not being covered. Additionally, remember if you are sitting by water, that the reflection from the water can cause you to get sunburn, so continue to wear sunscreen.
4. Don’t forget to protect your eyes. The eyes are very vulnerable to the UV rays, and cataracts later in life often result from excess sun. Find sunglasses that specifically block out UV rays.
5. Keep sunscreen in your glove box right next to the Band-Aids. You never quite know or expect to be out in the sun too long. As long as you keep it with you at all times, you will be ready should a baseball game go into overtime.
The whole purpose of sun safety tips is to reduce your risks of getting skin cancer. While one or two bad sunburns may not seem like a lot, experts agree that it is enough to raise your chances of skin cancer. And if you are tan, and got that way by baking in the sun or tanning salon – you are severely damaging your skin – and giving permission to the signs of aging.
Some people may have allergies to sunscreen. Not all sunscreens contain the same ingredients. So if one doesn’t work well, simply try another. You can also ask a dermatologist for a good brand or use sunscreens designed for young children which may be less irritating. Also, if you choose to use a waterproof sunscreen, and spend a lot of time in the water – you still need to reapply often.
One word to the wise. If you are taking antibiotics, they will greatly affect how your skin handles the sun. Many antibiotics come with a warning to stay out of direct sunlight right on the label. There are also other medications that warrant a person staying out of the sun. If you are taking any medications, be sure you check the label and ask a pharmacist if there are any potential dangers.
The sun is enjoyable. And everybody loves the sun kissed look of a summer tan. However, in the long run you are increasing your risks of a very serious type of cancer, and ensuring that you age prematurely. As a parent, it is your responsibility to keep your children safe. Cover up, use sunscreen – and enjoy the sun safely!