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Sun safety tips

I think we can all agree that we’ve been looking forward to some warmer weather.  Summer is a great time of year and many of us spend more time outdoors in the summer than any other time of year. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? That big, blistering sunburn you had as a child more than doubles your risk of developing melanoma (skin cancer) later in life. The sun is a welcome sight this time of year, but here are some sun safety tips to keep in mind any time you will be heading outside.

First, always apply sunscreen when heading outdoors. Make sure it has a SPF of at least 15, higher for children. Most sunscreens will not last an entire day – be sure to reapply often, especially after swimming or sweating. Check to see that your sunscreen is waterproof if you will be swimming, sweating or doing anything else where you might get wet. Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen to those areas often overlooked like the tops of your ears, lips and feet. Also be sure to ask for help for areas that are hard to reach – especially your back and shoulders. There are many products available that contain SPF, such as certain clothing, sunglasses, lip balm, moisturizer and even contact lenses.

Second, try to avoid the sun during the peak hours from 10 am to 4 pm, especially if you are by water or on the beach, as these reflect sunlight. Try to find areas of shade, or if none are available be sure to wear a hat and create as much of your own “shade” as possible. In our northern latitude, we may not feel the heat of a tropical sun, but all sun exposure, even on cloudy days, can cause skin damage.

Third, stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water, this is especially important for children and babies. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you. Also, try eating foods rich in beta carotene and lycopene such as tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, spinach and grapefruit. These foods have been proven to help protect skin from sun damage.

Keep these tips in mind to stay safe as you enjoy your warmer summer weather!

Beth is an RN specialist at the Koeller Street clinic in Oshkosh.  As an RN specialist, Beth helps people manage their chronic conditions. Beth has been in this role since March of 2010.  Beth has been a nurse for eight years and previously worked in two hospitals on medical, surgical, oncology and orthopedics units.

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