Summer is the time of year that really motivates you to get outside, and what’s not to like about getting out? Between the nice weather, later sunsets and blue skies you may find yourself wanting to stay outside for an extended amount of time. Whether you’re working in your yard or garden, relaxing by the pool or watching some little league baseball, there’s a good chance that the sun’s rays are beating down on you, even when it’s a little overcast (the sun’s rays still penetrate through the clouds!). The sun can damage your skin in a variety of ways resulting in sun burns, sun poisoning, wrinkles and in severe cases skin cancer. Luckily this type of damage to your skin can be lessened and in some instances avoided altogether with the use of sunscreen and other preventative techniques!
Studies have determined that the more often you expose your skin to the sun and the younger you are when it happens the greater your chances are of developing skin cancer later in life. But regardless of how much time you spend outside or your age there are plenty of things you can do to lessen your chances of causing any type of skin damage. One of the simplest ways to prevent sun damage is to do things like wear clothing or hats that cover the most affected areas such as your head, face, ears, shoulders and back. Limiting your time outside and avoiding extended time outside from 10:00-4:00, when the sun’s rays are the strongest, is a great idea too! In addition to these options applying sunscreen is another important preventative measure.
Many different sunscreens are available and sometimes the choices can seem overwhelming but there are a few basics you should look for. Most importantly is the Sun Protection Factor or SPF. It is suggested that you use a sunscreen with a SPF rating of at least 30 to block many of the sun’s harmful Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Above that SPF you will block some additional rays but maybe only 1% -1.5%. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays also come from the sun but are not blocked by most sunscreens unless they contain ingredients like zinc oxide, avobenzone, and ecamsule. UVA rays do not cause sunburn like UVB rays can but they can cause deeper skin damage and are important to prevent as well. Also many lip balms contain ingredients that prevent sunburn so look closely to see their SPF rating! Applying frequently and liberally throughout the day along with applying 30 minutes before getting in water also increase the effectiveness of sunscreens.
Some people are also at increased risk of skin damage such as those with light complexions, prior history of skin damage, or taking medications that increase your sensitivity to the sun. Drugs such as Bactrim, Levaquin, Amiodarone, and many more can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays and cause your skin to burn easier. Make sure to check with your pharmacist or health care professional to identify any medications you may be taking that fall into this category.
There’s no reason to not get out and enjoy the summer sun but make sure you do it taking all the necessary precautions to avoid damaging your skin. If you every have a question about selecting the right sun screen or techniques for avoiding the sun, stop by or call any of the Save Rite Family of Pharmacies to ask one of our pharmacists or staff members for help. We’re here for you.
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