Summer is here! It’s time to barbecue, go for a swim, and play catch in the back yard! Chattanooga is a beautiful place to enjoy lots of outdoor events and activities. Being active and getting regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. And while being in the sun feels so good and getting a little vitamin D is good for you, sun protection is still important.
Here’s why. Skin cancer is on the rise. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 1.6 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in 2016. Read on to learn simple tips to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays.
Stay covered. A good start is to wear dark clothing that’s tightly woven. Even a t-shirt or beach cover up provides more protection. Wearing a hat with a wide brim – one that is 2-3 inches all the way around – is a great way to protect the sensitive skin that gets the most heat. If you wear a baseball cap, don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears and neck.
UV blocking sunglasses (the bigger the better!) protect against certain eye diseases and the delicate skin around your eyes. Ideal sunglasses area labeled “UV absorption up to 400 mm” or “Meets ANSI UV requirements,” meaning they block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
Be serious about sunscreen. When it comes to sunscreen, be generous when you apply and do it often! Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when you go outside. At the beginning of the season, check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration has shelf life of no more than three years and shorter if it’s been exposed to high temperatures.
For kids, use a minimum SPF 30. The best choice is broad-spectrum protection that gives you coverage from both UVB and UVA rays.
Seek out shade. The sun is the hottest between 10 am and 4 pm. When it’s possible, find a shady spot especially when you’re spending time outside during these hours. And when you’ve been sweating, swimming or toweling off, be sure to reapply sunscreen often.
How does sunscreen work?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It’s the level of protection sunscreen provides against UVB rays (the main cause of sunburn). The higher SPF number means more protection against UVB rays. When applied correctly, SPF 15 sunscreen means you get 1 minute of UVB rays for each 15 minutes you spend in the sun. That means one hour in the sun with SPF 15 sunscreen means your skin is totally unprotected for 4 minutes. Here’s how your sun protection looks with each level of SPF:
SPF 15 – filters about 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 – filters about 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 – filters about 98% of UVB rays
SPF 100 – filters about 99% of UVB rays
Be wary of sunscreens with an SPF below 15 – these options only provide some protection again UVB rays and not aging skin or skin cancer.
Broad spectrum sunscreen means it’s been tested and shown to protect against both types of rays – UVA and UVB. If you’re looking for greater skin cancer or aging skin protection, using this kind of sunscreen in combination with other types of protection is your best bet.
*Source: American Cancer Society