Skip to the content

Don’t Get Burned: Make skin protection part of your summer fun strategy

As we enter the summer months we begin to spend more time out of doors enjoying that glorious sunshine.  Whether it’s an afternoon at the pool, a day at the lake or a week at the beach, remember to practice a little common sense to protect your skin this summer.

According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control, unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.

Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays; they filter them—and sometimes only slightly. Remember to plan ahead, and keep sun protection handy in your car, bag, or child’s backpack.

Tan? There’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays. Using a tanning bed causes damage to your skin, just like the sun.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types, called basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are highly curable, but treatment can be disfiguring. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, can be deadly.

Take precautions against sun exposure every day of the year, especially during midday hours (10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.), when UV rays are strongest and do the most damage. UV rays can reach you on cloudy days, and can reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.

The CDC recommends the following tips:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Put on sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. The UV rays from them can be stronger than UV rays from the summer sun at noon.

Resource:  US Centers for Disease Control