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A lazy beach day is the epitome of summer relaxation. Your toes are buried in the sand, your friends are reclined on nearby sun chairs and the sound of crashing waves is calming enough to put you right to sleep. It sounds just about perfect, until you wake up realizing you have become a human tomato.
We’ve all experienced that dreadful realization that maybe you soaked up a little too much sun. The next few days will be spent in close proximity to a bottle of aloe vera.
“It’s better to prevent sunburn than to treat it,” says Inspira Medical Director of Surgical Oncology, Dr. Nandini Kulkarni. “Sunburn can lead to skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S.—it affects approximately one in five people in their lifetime.”
It’s impossible to avoid the sun completely, but there are certain steps you can take to better protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays the next time you’re expecting to make the most of a beautiful summer day—or any day. UV rays are still present even when it’s cloudy or hazy outside.
What to wear:
Wear clothing that covers as much as your skin as possible. Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides ventilation is best to shield your skin and keep you cool. Sunglasses are more than a fashion statement. Get a pair that blocks 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes and surrounding skin. Top it all off with a wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp and shade your face.
Watch the clock:
Try to plan your outdoor activities before or after peak sun intensity hours. UV light is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must be outside during these times, seek as much shade as possible and make sure there’s enough sunscreen to go around—typically about one ounce.
Know your SPF:
Navigating the sunscreen aisle at the store can be overwhelming when trying to determine what coverage you need. A good rule of thumb is to choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Broad spectrum sunscreens will provide protection against UVA and UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers. And remember, you should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours for best results—even more if you’re swimming or sweating.
Avoiding sun overexposure is the best defense against skin cancer. Learn more about protecting yourself from skin cancer and the treatment options.