Home » Posts tagged "sunscreen"

Summer sun safety: protect your skin and eyes from the heat


Cool shades and a stylish hat aren’t just summertime accessories—they can also keep you healthy in the hot summer months. It’s always important to protect your skin from the sun, and equally important to properly protect your body during hot weather.

  • Stay shady—While you might be tempted to bask in the sunshine, limit your time exposed directly to rays. Seek shaded or air conditioned areas such as libraries or malls and, whenever possible, schedule outdoor events for the cooler, early parts of the morning. The sun’s rays are at their strongest at midday, making that an ideal time to not be outside. No matter what time of day it is, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and needs to be re-applied every two hours or immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating a great deal – many people put it on once and forget that it needs to be reapplied!

  • Stay hydrated—treat yourself to water and juice, but stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which actually dehydrates your body.
  • Stay light—if you’ve ever felt the heat rising from blacktop, you know that dark colors retain heat. Keep your summer clothes light-colored to reflect heat and lightweight to avoid getting overheated. Wear a brimmed hat or sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. In addition to preventing squint-induced wrinkles, protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays helps prevent cataracts from forming.
  • Stay sweaty—when your activities do put you out in the sun, be aware of the signs of heat stroke: altered mental state/confusion, nausea and lack of sweat. If you are experiencing these symptoms or see someone else experiencing them, seek medical attention immediately. Remember, if it’s hot and you’re not sweating, something might be wrong.

Summer fun can still be safe and include sunshine, as long as you keep the above tips in mind. What are your favorite ways to stay safe and beat the heat? Let us know in the comments.

Sunscreen: what is SPF anyway?

Time to head to the store for sunscreen, but first check last year’s bottle from your cupboard. Dr. Lawrence Gibson from Mayo Clinic reports that most are stable after three years provided they aren’t in high temperatures. So, check for expiration dates. But really…if you are applying it correctly there should not be much left over from last year. Adults should apply about one ounce each time and reapply after 3-4 hours. Don’t confuse sunscreen with sun tan lotions.

Sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays. The broad spectrum sunscreens will protect you from both. The UVB rays penetrate deep through layers and cause those wrinkles later, and they can even suppress your immune system. UVA  rays burn your skin. Ouch!

The SPF and its numbers get confusing. SPF is sun protection factor, and it determines how long it takes to sunburn skin with sunscreen compared to without sunscreen. SPF of 15 allows 1/15th of sun rays to get through versus no sunscreen, so it extends sun exposure without burning. You would think the higher the number the better, but if applied every 3-4 hours the 15 should protect you. Most doctors generally recommend SPF 30 for fair skinned people, blondes and redheads, both children and adults. Purchasing a sunscreen with SPF of 60 does not double your protection.

Your protection comes in applying generously and evenly to exposed areas 20-30 minutes before being in the sun, and reapplying after 3-4 hours.  Also remember to reapply after swimming or profusely sweating. Waterproof sunscreen comes off after 30 minutes in the  water. Try and avoid the sun between hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when the sun rays are most intense. Also, you do get burned on those overcast days! The sun rays get through the clouds and glass windows too. Protect yourself!

Make sure you use sunscreen to protect babies 6 months and older. Be sure to apply to those vulnerable sun areas such as tops of ears, nose, cheeks and shoulders. Babies under 6 months should not be in direct sunlight. Keep them in shade as much as possible, wearing wide brimmed hats and long thin sleeves. Avoid combination sunscreen-insect repellent products especially with DEET. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied, repellant not as often.

So let’s get outside and have a great summer and enjoy the sunshine! Just don’t underestimate the damage the sun can cause.


Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.