Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses and Sunburn This Summer
Thinking about spending time outdoors or enjoying time in the summer sun? With the warmer months come many outdoor activities. If you’re going to be outdoors this summer, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to stay safe this summer.
Know the difference between UVA & UVB rays: There are two types of rays that can harm your skin. Ultraviolet Type A (UVA) rays are present during all hours of daylight. They’re responsible for causing skin damage and wrinkles. It’s also the type of ray that gives you a tan. Ultraviolet Type B (UVB) rays are most prevalent between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. They can cause a sunburn along with your tan. UVB rays have long been recognized as a key cause of skin cancer. Experts also now recognize that UVA rays play a major role in the development of skin cancer, too. So make sure to protect yourself from both. Wear sunscreen and talk to your doctor about yearly screening for skin cancer, too.
Wear sunscreen when you go outside: Protecting yourself from the sun is particularly important for people over age 65. Because you have years of sun exposure under your belt, you’re more likely to develop melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Men are at particular risk. Men over 80 are three times more likely to develop melanoma than women the same age. Not all sunscreens are created equal. With all of the options out there, it’s hard to know which sunscreen is right for you. So, what exactly is sunscreen? Sunscreen uses many ingredients to help stop harmful UVA and UVB rays from reaching your skin and increasing your risk for skin cancer. Whichever sunscreen you use, remember to reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours, or as needed.
When shopping for sunscreens keep in mind:
- The higher the SPF (sun protection factor) number, the more protection you will get from the sun. SPF 15 and higher is best.
- Look for sunscreen with “broad-spectrum” on the label for the best coverage. This will protect your skin from all UV rays, including UVA and UVB.
- Choose "reef friendly" sunscreens, especially if you live in South Florida where our Florida Reef Tract is. Avoid harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene and anything with paba or parabens. These chemicals have been found to harm coral and the fish that call our reefs home.
- Most moisturizers and aftershave products have SPF 15-50. The higher the SPF, the longer your skin is protected. However, if you are spending a lot of time in the sun, use real sunscreen.
- No matter how high the SPF, remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or as needed. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, you will need to apply it more frequently.
- Mineral based sunscreens are effective the moment you apply them, chemical based sunscreens typically take 30 - 40 minutes to take effect. Mineral is best, especially when snorkeling or swimming near reefs.
How to beat the summer heat and humidity:
- When planning a trip outdoors, make sure to look at the weather forecast to see how strong the heat index (sometimes called “real feel”) and UV levels will be so you can prepare. UV levels tell you how much wavelength energy the sun is giving off, which could harm your skin. Download a weather app on your smartphone to quickly learn the current heat or UV index.
- Limit trips outdoors on days of high humidity. Humidity affects how fast your sweat evaporates and can leave you feeling hotter than it really is. Humidity levels under 60 are best.
- Plan activities during the cooler hours of the day (morning and evening hours). The most dangerous time to be outside is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Hydration is key during the summer. Stay hydrated and drink extra water during days of high activity. You should drink 8-10 cups of water each day.
- Stay covered. Make sure to wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, light clothing and always apply sunscreen.
- If you feel overheated, take a break and drink some water. Look out for the signs of heat stroke, such as high body temperature, flushed skin, headache, rapid breathing, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, call 911. Heat stroke can damage your organs and even lead to death.
Remember, healthy skin is always in. Use these tips to stay happy and healthy while still enjoying your summer. As always, keep cool and use sunscreen!
Filed under: Health Education