Summer, as you would agree is one of the most exciting times of the year – the sunshine, warmth and blooming flowers lure us outside after the drape dull winter months.
It’s the perfect time of the year to make plans for outdoorsy activities which may include camping, vacation, picnics, swimming, barbeques, sunbathing at the beach and other summer events.
Summer’s sunny days makes getting soaked in the sun too irresistible and the most natural way to get those banging body tans and bleaching your hair; but you also know that the sun is your number one enemy. The sun’s ultraviolet rays that are the long (UVA) and short (UVB) wavelengths are medically proven to harm the skin cells.
How the Sun Harms the Human Body
Although the sun emits three types of ultraviolet rays, only two reach the earth as outlined below:
- UVA rays penetrate the ozone layer – i.e. that protective layer of gaseous oxygen in the atmosphere which shields the planet earth from the harshness of the sun – effortlessly. This long-wavelength ultraviolet light contributes extensively to almost every form of skin cancers. They are to blame for wrinkling of the skin as well as premature aging.
- UVB rays are not as powerful as UVA rays, and this makes it possible for the ozone layer to absorb most of its harshness or force. Nevertheless, enough UVB rays still manage to pass through to reach the earth and are responsible for causing grievous harm to health. They cause eye disease in the form of cataract, which is a thin film that covers the lens of the eyes. They are also responsible for other severe health issues such as sunburns, immune system problems and also play a part in causing skin cancers.
- UVC rays are also emitted by the sun and have been proven to be extremely dangerous to human life. But thank goodness, the ozone layer is packed solid enough to deflect this harmful radiation from reaching the planet earth and harming humans to a great extent.
These ultraviolet rays play significant roles in what is known as photoaging which is responsible for the development of dark spots, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
Also, the number of people affected by a tumor of the skin or melanoma has been on a steady rise for more than thirty years, which is attributed in part, to the devastating impacts of over-exposure to the sun’s UV radiation.
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, individuals who have fairer skin tone are twenty times more likely to suffer skin cancer in their lifetime versus those with darker skin tones.
Even more worrisome is the fact that melanoma is one of the most generic cancers diagnosed in young individuals under the age of thirty. It is a disease that commonly affects young women.
Statistics from Australia, for instance, reveals the severity of the danger of overexposure to the sun as outlined below:
- At least two out of three individuals will be diagnosed with one form of skin cancer or the other by the time they reach age 70
- In Australia, melanoma is the third most common skin cancer and the most prevalent among Australians between ages 15-44
- 80% of newly diagnosed cancers in Australia today are skin cancers
- 95-99% of all skin cancers are as a result of overexposure to the sun
- More than one million consultations with general practitioners for skin cancer is recorded every year
These astounding data about the severity of overexposure to the sun makes it crucial for you to protect yourself as much as possible from the harsh rays of the sun.
This, however, does not imply that you should get stuck inside afraid to enjoy the shiny warm outdoors.
It is a wakeup call to make you aware of the dangers of staying out under the sun for an extended time without a sunscreen protection.
Therefore, here are ten sun safety tips for the summer that you should keep in mind as you get set to catch fun:
1. Make Good Use of Sunscreen, Especially Whenever You Are Outdoors
The first line of defense that you should set up against ultraviolet rays is the use of a potent sunscreen. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that this tip takes the number one spot on this article.
Are you aware that unprotected exposure to the sun can result in severe skin or sun damage in as little as fifteen minutes? The same effect can also occur even on cloudy days. The easiest – and fastest – means of protecting your skin from the dangers of ultraviolet rays is to apply topical sunscreens. Here are more tips on how to stop sun damage on the skin.
There are two major types of sunscreens: physical blockers and chemical blockers. Sunscreens with physical blockers work via the use of fine mineral particles to disperse and reflect sunlight away from the skin. Sunscreens with chemical blockers, on the other hand, work by making use of synthetic carbon compounds which absorb ultraviolet rays chemically.
Please, take note that both of these types of sunscreens possess respective advantages and disadvantages. For example, sunscreens composed of physical blockers do not decompose under the sun, meaning that they last longer than their counterpart. But the downside of using this type of sunscreen is that it often feels greasy and requires manual washing off your skin.
Sunscreens with chemical blockers are lighter and have a wearable feel which makes them agreeable to use with cosmetics. But it can be dangerous to people with sensitive skin or trigger irritation bouts.
The next thing you should watch out for in your search for a great sunscreen product is its Sun Protection Factor or SPF. This is a measurement that compares the time it would take for someone to get a sunburn if such an individual is wearing or not wearing a sunscreen.
For instance, disregarding other factors such as light intensity, the skin type of the individual, and the amount applied, it implies that if it takes about 15 minutes for someone to get burned without sunscreen, using an SPF 20 will protect the individual twenty times longer or for 300 minutes.
However, sunscreens with higher SPF does not equate to a higher or greater level of protection. No sunscreen can block UVB rays 100%, so don’t be taken in by the marketing claims or listen to popular beliefs. Sunscreens with SPF 15 blocks approximately 94% of UVB rays while the ones with SPF 30 blocks up to 97%. A product with SPF 45 can block about 98% UVB; therefore, you should purchase a sunscreen that has no less than SPF 30 and up to SPF 50. There is little to no extra benefit for products with higher SPF, so don’t waste your money needlessly.
The FDA gives their seal of approval on broad-spectrum sunscreens since they effectively protect users from both UVA and UVB rays. They are the best as they offer maximum protection from the sun’s rays.
One additional caution; do not rely only on cosmetics to keep you away from the harm posed by overexposure to the sun. Some cosmetics come with ingredients which are commonly found in physical blockers, but their quantities are almost negligible and must not be substituted for sunscreens.
Therefore, you can guarantee good coverage by applying your sunscreen first, wait for about thirty minutes so that your skin absorbs it. then apply your cosmetic cream or makeup of choice.
2. Do Not Expose Yourself to the Sun Between 10 AM and 2 PM
The sun is usually at its strongest and hottest at such periods, and you could be exposing yourself to harmful ultraviolet rays. If you are outside at such times, you run the risk of getting sunburned or go down with heat-related illnesses. If it is a must for you to do something outside during this time, do your best to seek shelter or shade, wear your sunscreen and protective clothing. We all know the importance of sun for the body in generating the Vitamin D for the day, but only 5 minutes in the morning sun are enough for that.
Do not be fooled if you observe that the sky is cloudy or overcast and therefore, must be safe to venture out. More than 80% of harmful ultraviolet rays penetrate cloud covers. This is why you are likely to get sunburned even on cloudy days.
3. Protect Your Eyes by Wearing Sunglasses
Do you know that ultraviolet rays can be reflected in water which has the potential of damaging your eyes? You can prevent this by wearing sunglasses that come with UVA and UVB protection. These sunglasses do not only protect your eyes from developing cataracts but also protect the sensitive skin around your eyes.
4. Utilize the Shades as Much as Possible
Always try as much as possible to keep yourself in the shade anytime you go out. Get an umbrella or have your meeting under a shade tent or a tree.
5. Be Especially Careful About Sun Protection for Kids
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Do not use sunscreens on kids who are six months or younger in age. If you need to take them out with you, then make sure you make use of protective clothing and utilize shades as much as possible. Children more than six months old, however, can use sunscreen on a regular basis.
6. Eat More Veggies and Fruits
You can eat your way to natural sun protection as shown in a recent research. Some fruits and veggies contain phytonutrients that are known as carotenoids which are responsible for the gold and yellow color that you see. These carotenoids can also enhance your skin’s natural resistance to ultraviolet damage, but you can only get them when you eat more fruits and veggies.
Additionally, carotenoids make your skin to adopt a golden hue which makes you look more attractive, healthier and finely tanned without having to endure the health hazards associated with tanning lotions.
So, eat lots of fruits and veggies.
7. Wear A Hat or Headgear
Buy and wear hats with wide brims that will cover or protect your head, face, ears, and neck from harmful ultraviolet rays whenever you are outside. Canvas is a tightly-woven fabric which is recommended for use as a result of its ability to combat UV rays.
If you prefer wearing a baseball cap, then ensure that you protect your ears as well as the back of your neck with sunscreen and protective clothing.
8. Use Sun Protective Clothing
Always wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts as well as long pants anytime you are going out. They are the best clothing that will protect you from the sun. You should remember at all times that clothes with dark colors offer more protection than the ones with light colors and a wet T-shirt provides less protection compared to a dry one.
9. Drink Lots of Fluids
Whenever you are sweating, you lose a lot of water that your body needs to function properly. Summer is a season of sporting activities or outdoor games, and if you are running around in the sun, you end up losing much more water as a result of excessive sweating.
Drinking water is a crucial part of staying physically healthy, most especially when the weather outside is hot. You need to drink lots of clean water and also encourage your children to drink up as well. You don’t have to wait until you are thirsty before gulping water. When you drink water before you even feel thirsty, you maintain the water level in your body, thus preventing it from plummeting too low.
If that happens, it could result in a condition known as dehydration. Dehydration is a condition that results from a serious lack of water in the human body as a result of inadequate ingestion of fluids or excessive loss via vomiting, sweating or diarrhea.
In the same vein, you should drink lots of juices, coconut water, and cold milk that will help in nourishing your skin as well as your scalp. These light fluids also help in rejuvenating dead cells and protect against acute dehydration as well as heat stroke.
However, you should try as much as possible to avoid fluids like tea, coffee, and other heated beverages.
10. Avoid Medications that Increase the Sensitivity of Your Skin to the Sun
Research has shown that some over-the-counter medications and antibiotics can trigger your skin to be more sensitive to the sun. Therefore, you should go out of your way to get more information about the medication you are taking and their attendant side effects. You can obtain the required information from your pharmacist before you mistakenly over-expose yourself to the harshness of the summer sun.
We all love summer and sun but we have to understand that no good thing comes without a few downsides as well. Getting a sunburn is not funny at all since it could put on a big stress the immune system and body’s overall health. Therefore, it’s important to know how to use the power of the sun to your own advantage!