Summer has finally arrived and after spending months waiting to get back outside, it’s time to reunite with the outdoors and, of course, the sunshine. While we are anxiously reaching for Vitamin D, we are exposing our skin to the effects of radiant rays from the Sun. Protecting yourself is extremely important during this time when transitioning to the outdoors. Let’s talk about some ways to protect ourselves during the next few months while still enjoying the summertime rays.
Here are some skin protection information and tips:
Sunscreen and SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which measures sunscreen protection from UVB rays, the strong rays causing sunburns, and may also contribute to different types of skin cancers. These rays can be so strong that within 15 minutes, our skins will be affected if not properly protected.
What number SPF should we use?
We are all too familiar with the different numbers on our sunscreen bottles, but how do we tell which is the best? SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB radiation, SPF 30 sunscreen blocks nearly 97%, and SPF 45 sunscreen blocks about 98%.
Most dermatologists recommended using SPF 30 to block the UVB rays. Make sure to apply even on cloudy days as the UVB rays can easily pass through the clouds and its very important to reapply every 2 hours.
When should I avoid the sun?
The sun is more intense and distributes higher UVB rays during the times between 10 am and 2 pm, therefore try to avoid being outside for a long period of time during those hours. Unfortunately, these are prime hours that most time people spend outside, so make sure you are applying your sunscreen every two hours, seek shaded areas, wear big brim hats or scarves and stay extremely hydrated.
It is so important to drink enough water during the summertime, our bodies lose more water through sweat during the hot months and replacing them by staying hydrated can lower your chance of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Medications and the sun
Certain medications can increase your sensitivity to the sun. Some medications are antibiotics (Bactrim or Tetracycline), antihistamines (Benadryl); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – aspirin or ibuprofen; antidepressants; antipsychotics; and some oral diabetic medications. It is always important to check in with your health care provider about the risks of potential sun risks while taking these medications.
Healthy Lifestyle choices
Treat yourself and your skin with a lot of care during this time, performing regular check-ups for any new moles, freckles or birthmarks. Make sure to monitor if you notice any new skin changes from the sun and always consult a doctor if you are unsure. Limit smoking cigarettes as tobacco can damage collagen and elastin your skin. Use gentle soaps and moisturize often. Eating healthy meals (like incorporating a lot of fruits and vegetables) can help to keep you hydrated. It’s very important to engage in non-stress related activities, like yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and maintaining a healthy amount of sleep to ensure your body gets the rest it needs.