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Neighbors of DuPage

Stay safe in the sun

Jul 10, 2015 01:40PM ● By Neighbors Magazines

Dollar Photo

As summer is quickly approaching, we are all going to spend time in the sun. We know that the sun produces harmful UVA and UVB rays and that those rays increase our risk of skin cancers and premature aging, such as wrinkles and sun spots. If we protect ourselves with a few simple guidelines, we can drastically reduce those risks.

The simplest way to protect ourselves is to avoid the sun altogether, but that may not be practical while staying active and enjoying all summer has to offer. Avoiding the sun or seeking shade during its peak sunlight hours between 10am and 4pm will decrease the risk of sunburn and UV radiation. Covering up with clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses is also recommended. The more skin we cover, the more protection we have, but all clothing is not considered equal in sun protection. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor and the higher the UPF of the clothing, the less amount of UV radiation that actually reaches the skin.

In addition, sunscreen is vital to sun safety by protecting us from up to 99% of UV rays that reach our skin, if chosen and used correctly. First, a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should be used to block both UVA and UVB rays. Second, enough sunscreen should be applied—approximately one ounce to cover the body. Third, it should be applied 30 minutes before going into the sun and reapplied every two hours, or after excessive sweating or swimming.

The bottom line is we all can safely enjoy the sun throughout the summer if these basic guidelines are followed:

§         Avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm.

§         Cover up with high UPF clothing if possible.

§         Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every two hours.  

Shruthi Reddy, MD, FAAD is a dermatologist with the DuPage Medical Group