July is UV Safety Awareness Month, making it a great time to think about how you and your family spend time in the sun. According to the American Cancer Society, ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from the sun is the main cause of most skin cancers. The good news is, there are simple things you can do every day (not just during the summer) to reduce your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. To help you stay safe in the rays, we spoke with Dr. Mia Finkelston, a board-certified doctor you can see using LiveHealth Online.
“A surprising fact about the sun that most people don’t realize is that it takes just 15 minutes of sun exposure to cause potential long-term issues with your skin,” Dr. Mia says. “That is why it’s important to remember some simple things you and your family can do each day to limit your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays and have fun outside.” Keep these 5 sun-protection pointers in mind:
- Wear sunglasses. Most sunglasses protect against both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Wearing sunglasses every day can help protect against sun damage to your eyes and melanoma (skin cancer). In general, the bigger the glasses the better because sunglasses can also minimize the risk of fine lines around the eyes, where our skin is thinnest and most sensitive.
- Wear sunscreen. Every day you should apply sunscreen with SPF 15, at a minimum. Choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF if you’ll be in the sun longer than a few minutes (check out more sunscreen pointers here). Apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day, and don’t be stingy — use a good amount and work it into your skin all over. Get in the habit of putting sunscreen on every morning in your facial moisturizer, and apply it to your neck and chest for added coverage.
- Wear light clothing for extra coverage. Cover your arms and legs with a loose shirt or cover-up. If you are in the sun for a prolonged period of time, consider wearing UV protective clothing, which you can buy online or in many retail stores. This is very important if you work outside.
- Drink lots of water. Bring water or a non-alcoholic beverage with you when you are outside in the sun. When you’re active you sweat more, and the risk of losing fluids through your skin increases. Pay attention to how often you are going to the bathroom. If your urine output decreases, or you’ve been on the beach for 4 to 6 hours and haven’t needed to take a trip to the bathroom, then you need to drink more water.
- Be prepared. If you do get a sunburn, a headache, or heat exhaustion and dehydration, know what to do. Have aloe, ibuprofen and cool compresses for your skin as needed, and drink plenty of fluids.
If you get a bad sunburn or have questions about how to stay safe in the sun, remember you can always talk to a doctor anytime, anywhere using LiveHealth Online.