Summer activities leads to spending more time outdoors. Getting a dose of vitamin D each day is good but too much sun can lead to skin cancer and other issues. This is a good time to review some safety tips to avoid burns and excess exposure while working outside or just soaking up some rays.
1. The best protection is covering up and avoiding the sun during the most intense hours of the day. A loose long sleeve shirt, pants or shorts, a hat and sunglasses are a first start.
2. Stay in the shade as much as possible or provide some through an umbrella especially if you are out at the beach. Infants lack melanin to protect their skin so make sure babies and young children are in the shade and away from a reflection from a water source like a pool or the ocean.
3. For the last six years the Environmental Working group has produced an annual Sunscreen Guide providing the public with comparisons of more than 1800 products for sun protection. Look for sunscreens with broad spectrum coverage of both UVA and UVB ray protection. Avoid those with vitamin A sometimes listed as “retinyl palmitate”. (Get vitamin A by eating vegetables, not rubbing it on your skin). Also stay away from those brands with oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting chemical and those in powder or spray form that could be inhaled. Mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good choices especially for children and those with sensitive skin.
4. Be careful with high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreens. The ratings may only protect from UVB rays but not necessarily UVA rays. Also the high number may give a false sense of security so people do not reapply the sunscreen often enough or stay out in the sun too long. Sunscreen should be applied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
5. The National Weather Service and the EPA have developed a daily UV Index to measure the ultraviolet radiation level on a scale of 1 (low) to 11+ (extremely high). Seasonal and weather variations as well as ozone depletion can affect the level of radiation that reaches the earth.
Remember to be sun wise even on overcast days!