Exposure to sunlight offers numerous benefits, including increased levels of vitamin D, improved metabolism, more energy and more-restful sleep. You should use caution, however, to avoid overexposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, with sun overexposure being the primary risk factor. You can still go outdoors and enjoy the warm spring and summer weather, but you should take precautions to protect your skin from sun damage.
Limit Time Outdoors Between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.
Avoid spending too much time outdoors between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. According to the American Skin Association (ASA), ultraviolet (UV) sunlight is the strongest during these hours. Therefore, you should try to plan your outdoor activities either before 10:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. And if you do go outside between 10:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m., make sure your skin is fully protected. UV sunlight occurs at all times of the day, but it’s the highest between these hours.
Wear a Hat
Something as simple as a hat can help protect your skin from sun damage. A wide-brimmed hat will offer coverage over your face, essentially shading your face from sunlight. Even if you have a short-brimmed hat, it will stick protect your scalp from sun damage. Overexposure to sunlight can cause serious (and painful) burns on your scalp — something that it’s easily prevented by wearing a hat.
Apply Sunscreen Lotion to Uncovered Skin
Not surprisingly, applying sunscreen lotion to your uncovered, exposed skin will protect your skin from sun damage. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a sunscreen lotion with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. SPF is a measurement of how much UVB sunlight a sunscreen lotion is capable of blocking. Using a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 30 should block roughly 97% of UVB sunlight, meaning you shouldn’t get sunburned while wearing it.
You should also choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion. While sunburn is only caused by UVB sunlight, UVA sunlight can still damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion, however, contains additional ingredients to protect against both UVB and UVA sunlight.
Keep in mind that sunscreen lotion may require multiple applications. If you go swimming after applying it, some of the sunscreen lotion will likely wear off, in which case you’ll need to reapply for maximum protection against sun damage. Always keep a bottle of sunscreen lotion on hand when swimming.
Sport Some Sunglasses
In addition to wearing a hat, sporting a pair of sunglasses can further protect your skin from sun damage. Some people assume that sunglasses only protect your eyes from sun damage, but this isn’t necessarily true. While sunglasses will certainly protect your eyes from sun damage, they’ll also protect your eyelids. Because they are so thin, eyelids are highly vulnerable to sun damage. To protect your eyelids from otherwise harmful UV sunlight, sport a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses when outside.
Include Tomatoes in Your Diet
Numerous foods are good for your skin, but one of the most beneficial is tomatoes. This is because tomatoes contain high concentrations of a specific antioxidant known as lycopene. Lycopene is responsible for the tomato’s characteristically red color. More importantly, it acts as a shield against sun-related skin damage. Lycopene essentially counters the oxidative stress caused by sunlight, minimizing the otherwise damaging effects of sun exposure. Eating tomatoes isn’t a foolproof safeguard against sun-related skin damage. When used in conjunction with the other tips outlined in this blog post, though, it can promote healthy and youthful skin all summer long.
Wear Long Shirts and Pants
Wearing a long-sleeved shirt with long-length pants or trousers can also reduce your risk of sustaining sun-related damage. Conventional fabrics like cotton and linen will block UV sunlight, preventing it from reaching your skin where it’s able to cause damage. If you’re worried that you’ll get uncomfortably hot while wearing a long shirt and long pants, choose thin and lightweight garments. If they are “breathable,” they should keep you cool and comfortable.
Check Your Medication
If you take any medication, check the label to see if it contains sunlight sensitivity as a side effect. Several common medications can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, some of which include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and blood pressure drugs. If you currently take any of these medications, contact your physician to see if there’s a substitute available that does not cause light sensitivity as a side effect.
It can take as little as 15 minutes of direct sun exposure to damage your skin, so you need to take precautions before going outdoors. Failure to do do could result in painful sunburn and blistering as well as a higher risk of skin cancer.
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