Summer Sun Safety

Sunscreen suntan lotion sun drawing in sunblock cream on tanned

There’s an expression we tend to use when referring to summer activities- “fun in the sun.” But here’s the thing, this ‘expression’ which appears to be quite accurate, may in fact be the greatest oxymoron. You see, July is National UV Safety Month, and not without good reason. The sun is the strongest at this time of year, and just a few minutes of exposure is enough to do permanent damage. So while you’re packing your bags and planning for an exotic getaway or simply a day at your local beach, keep in mind that it’s not all ‘fun in the sun’ if you’re not adequately prepared. The risks are real; I’m talking melanoma (gasp!) and other forms of skin cancer. But hey, I’m not all doom and gloom; I love a day under the shining sun. There’s just a way to do it without eventually ending up under another nurse’s care. Here’s how:

Seek Out The Shade:

You have a new BFF this summer. Her name is Shade. But really, by making sure to stay in the shade, particularly between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM when dangerous UVA and UVB rays are strongest, you can avoid some serious and permanent skin damage. That’s not to say that you’re stuck under a tree or a beach umbrella all day. Just be wise, and try and spend a majority of your time in a protected area during the hottest and sunniest parts of the day. And of course, you’ll want to keep reapplying that sunscreen.

Feel the Burn (NOT!):

Fun fact. Or not so fun fact. If you get severely sunburned even ONCE every two years, your risk of developing melanoma triples. TRIPLES!! If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. Here’s a little science lesson. Strong UVA and UVB rays destroy skin cells and can actually damage the genetic materials within. While the cells regenerate, damaged DNA can be left behind increasing the risk of a genetic mutation. Hello, skin cancer! And in case you were wondering, same goes for tanning.

Dress Accordingly:

Summer is hot. And humid. And lots of other unpleasant feelings. Which propels people to pull on their favorite pair of short shorts and skimpiest tank tops day in and day out. If you plan on spending most of your day indoors, by all means. But if you’re the outdoorsy type who hikes, swims, etc.- I’ve got news for you. That thin, cotton top is doing nothing for you in terms of protection. Zilch, nada, zero! Do yourself a favor and invest in active clothing that offers UV protection. Any sports or outdoors store will offer you a full selection. Another thing- get yourself a nice, wide brimmed hat and pair of sunglasses that wraps around your face as much as possible.

Slather on the Sunscreen:

Last but definitely not least, be sure to apply sunscreen on a constant basis as it is the only tried, true, and guaranteed way to prevent sunburn when your bare skin is exposed to those damaging UVA and UVB rays. How does it work? To put it simply, the chemical makeup of sunscreen allows it to either absorb the rays or reflect the rays, thereby protecting you. One ounce of SPF 30+ applied liberally about a half hour before the sun is at its strongest is the way to go, with reapplication every 2 hours or after swimming or profuse sweating.

Happy summer, people! Stay safe:)

Cha-Ching!!
CNA: To Be or Not To Be