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Beat the Heat: Tips for Protecting Your Skin from the Summer Sun

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May 8, 2007

Chicago -

After a long winter and chilly spring, most people are anxious to spend time outside and soak up some rays from the warm summer sun. However, before you head to the park, beach or pool it’s important to remember that the sun can pack a dangerous punch to skin that’s not properly protected. Neill Peters, MD, Dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, suggests integrating some simple sun protection tips into your daily routine to protect your skin:

Choose Sunscreen Carefully    When choosing a sunscreen, there are several things to keep in mind.  First, make sure the brand offers protection against both UVB and UVA rays, is PABA free and offers an SPF of 15 or higher. Next, be sure to choose a product that is appropriate for the activities you’ll be enjoying. For example, be sure to purchase waterproof sunscreen if you’ll be at the beach or pool.  Finally, if you have sensitive skin, look for hypoallergenic sunscreens to limit irritation or rash.

Apply Sunscreen Effectively    Apply sunscreen liberally and evenly to all exposed skin, and make sure you don’t forget sensitive areas such as your lips, ears, scalp and the top of your feet and hands.  It’s best to apply sunscreen at least 20-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours; more frequently if you’re swimming, towel-drying or sweating a great deal.   

Wear Sun-Appropriate Apparel    When possible, select clothing made from tightly woven fabrics and dark colors that offer more protection; if you can see light through a fabric UV rays can get through as well. Be sure your clothing allows you to breathe however so you do not overheat.  In addition, select accessories that offer further protection such as a wide-rimmed hat to protect the neck, ears, scalp and face against overexposure to the sun.  Proper eyewear that offers UV protection is equally important  and will protect your eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes.

Avoid Peak Hours    Try to avoid the sun's most intense rays by limiting exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  And don't be fooled by overcast days – sun rays have  no trouble making their way through the clouds.

Don’t Forget the Little Ones    One blistering sunburn during childhood can double a person's lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. Protect your kids by applying an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen one hour before exposure, dressing them in tighly-woven clothing and wide-brimmed sun hats and finding a shady place to play or rest. Remember, babies under six months should be exposed to the sun as little as possible.
Remember After-Sun Care    If, even after taking precaution, you do get burned, treat your skin with soothing after-sun products to stop further damage and restore moisture while reducing irritation, redness and pain. Lotions with aloe Vera and vitamin E work best.

See Your Dermatologist    Make an appointment with a dermatologist to learn more about your skin type and find out additional ways in which you can protect your skin. 

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011