Staying Safe in the Summer Sun

Five ways to protect your skin this summer

(RxWiki News) Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. What are you doing to protect your skin?

Of every five Americans, one is at risk of developing skin cancer at some point, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Fortunately, there are ways you can protect yourself and your family — starting with these five tips:

1) Find shade.

If you can't find shade, make shade. This can be in the form a tent or umbrella if a tree is unavailable. 

2) Wear protective clothing.

This includes shirts, pants, sunglasses and hats.

Measures like this can be more helpful than relying exclusively on sunscreen for UV protection. Some clothes are certified under international standards for UV protection. They will usually come with information on their ultraviolet protection factor.

When selecting sunglasses, opt for a pair that wraps around your face.

3) Check the UV index as you plan outdoor activities.

If you are planning to spend time outdoors, schedule activities for the early morning or late afternoon. These times are usually when the risk of UV exposure is lowest as opposed to when the sun's rays are typically the strongest which is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

You can find updated UV index information on various weather websites.

It is also important to note a cloudy day does not mean you're in the clear when it comes to sunburns. Applying sunscreen is recommended even on slightly cloudy or cool days. This is because UV rays can pass through clouds. 

4) Select the right sunscreen.

Choose a sunscreen that has the following characteristics:

  • Broad-spectrum protection. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen ensures you are protected from both UVB and UVA rays.
  • SPF between 15 and 50. The SPF number, assigned to sunscreens, rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers mean more protection.
  • Water resistance. This means it is required to be tested and will indicate if the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes when swimming or sweating.

5) Apply sunscreen generously.

To cover the body from head to toe evenly, you need at least one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass) for an average-sized adult or child.

Applying sunscreen in lotion form may be a better option than a spray or sunscreen stick. With sprays and sticks, it may be too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.

When you're outdoors, be sure to reapply your sunscreen often. Reapply at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating. And do not forget to apply sunscreen to your ears, nose, lips and the tops of your feet.

Visit your local community pharmacy for all of your summer health needs, and ask your pharmacist any questions you have about keeping yourself and your family safe this summer.