Planning to spend some time in the sun this weekend? Enjoy yourself this Labor Day, but keep in mind that there are precautions you can take that will allow you to have a great time while reducing your risk of too much sun exposure.
Sunscreen Types and Uses
These days, sunscreen comes in so many forms and types that it might be hard to find the most effective product. Whether you choose a powder, wax, liquid, gel, or spray, all seem equally effective when comparing spectrum level and the SPF factor.
It is now known that UV radiation comes in two forms: UVA and UVB. UVB is the culprit that causes your skin to burn, blotch, and become disfigured. UVA reaches the deeper levels of the body to target your immune system, and research shows that it can even penetrate glass and the upper layers of skin to get there. To protect you against both kinds of UV, use a broad spectrum sunscreen and follow the instructions on the label for optimal results.
SPF level is a hotly debated item, but the main idea behind its designation is that the higher your SPF level is, the longer you should be able to remain in the sun without getting burned. While this isn’t an exact science, choosing the highest possible SPF is recommended to help you avoid the many complications and cancers that UV exposure causes.
Another sunscreen consideration is which ingredients are used to make it effective. Look for sunscreens with avobenzone, cinoxate, ecamsul, menthyl anthranilate, octyl methodycinnamate, octyl salicylate, oxybenzone, and sulisobenzone. There is concern that oxybenzone causes skin irritations, Dr. Lawrence Gibson, M.D. with the Mayo Clinic argues that those same studies show that 1-6% oxybenzone in sunscreen had no skin irritation effect, so avoid higher concentrations if encountered.
Always apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and re-apply every 2 hours or even more often if you’re sweating.
Safe Sun Practices
Planning on taking a swim? Even waterproof sunscreen gets washed off easily, so re-apply sunscreen often if you plan on spending time in the water, and always apply another layer when leaving the water.
Be sure to apply sunscreen to every exposed part of your body as generously as possible and rub well into your skin to keep it on for the maximum length. Consider applying it to the covered parts of your body if you plan to wear thin clothing that doesn’t offer UV protection.
Experts also recommend avoiding the sun between the hours of 10am and 4pm. These hours are the times when the sun is at its most concentrated, with far less atmosphere to filter the UV. Instead, use the mornings and evenings to play in the sun while choosing another fun or fully clothed activity during the rest of the day to maximize your holiday benefits.
If you do end up with sunburn, there aren’t many things you can do to reduce the length of time it will take to heal. Apply wet cloths, take cold baths, and leave the areas alone – no blister removal allowed – until they begin to heal and/or peel on their own. See a doctor if you develop a fever, if the burn doesn’t go away, or if it is too severe for home treatment.
Lastly, enjoy your Labor Day weekend, and rest assured that you are following all of these safe practices so that you can enjoy many more in the future!
Author: Kevin Freeman