4 Tips for Sun Safety

By Caroline South

Summer is here, and with it comes an increase in the amount of time you and your loved ones are spending outside. Whether you’re working in the garden, on a vacation with family or walking in the park, there’s one thing you should never go without: sunscreen. We’ve all heard about the importance of sunscreen and the risks we could face if we forget to wear it. Below is a guide to sun safety, along with some lesser known tips you may find surprising. 

Wear sunglasses with UV protection. Too much sunlight can cause both short-term and long-term damage to the eyes. The longer your eyes are exposed to solar radiation without protection, the more likely you are to develop cataracts or macular degeneration. This is especially true for adults over age 65. If you’re an older adult or the caregiver to an older adult, make sure you have the right protection. According to the American Optometric Association, sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation. 

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The type of sunscreen you wear matters. According to the FDA, spray-on sunscreen may not be as effective as rub-on lotions. Most medical professionals agree that lotions are preferable to sprays. While sprays are certainly quicker and easier, they may not provide as thorough coverage as a lotion. Use a lotion with broad screen protection and 30 SPF or higher. 

Wear a hat. Hats are an excellent way to protect the scalp, neck, and face from harmful sun exposure. As we get older our hair thins and our scalp has less of a barrier against the sun. Opt for a hat with a wide brim so that your face and neck receive protection too. It’s important to remember that you should still apply sunscreen to these areas even when you’re wearing a hat. 

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Reapply, reapply, reapply. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure in order to be fully absorbed by the skin. Remembering to reapply is equally as important. Even if you’re wearing waterproof sunscreen, you should always reapply after swimming. In addition, you should reapply every two hours you spend in the sun. If you’re caring for an aging loved one, you can help them remember to reapply by setting an alarm on their phone or downloading an app. 

Getting outside during the summer months is something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. No matter what it is you enjoy doing outside, always protect your skin and your health! For more information, visit the American Cancer Society’s section on summer sun prevention.

By Caroline South