Protect your skin in the summer sun
6/23/2022 by Libby Curry, D.O.
Sunburns can not only ruin a weekend or vacation, but they also can lead to skin cancer. The real problem with spending time soaking up the sun is the ultraviolet, or UV, light. UV light is responsible for sunburn, skin cancer and skin damage.
To enjoy warm summer weather and protect your skin from UV light, you should:
- Avoid spending time in direct sunlight.
- Avoid the peak sun hours of 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
- Use sunscreen.
- Wear sun-protective clothing.
If you plan to spend time outside, sunscreen is recommended. The sunscreen aisle at your grocery store or pharmacy has many options to choose from, so it can be hard to decide what to pick. When choosing a sunscreen, the most important thing to look for is the sun protection factor, or SPF. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater when participating in outdoor activities.
How you apply the sunscreen is another key factor. Sunscreen is most protective when applied generously and repeated throughout the day. It is important to apply your sunscreen 15–30 minutes before going outside. Then you should reapply it every two hours, or after sweating or swimming. You will need about 1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons, of sunscreen for each application. Remember to apply sunscreen over your whole body.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under 6 months of age stay covered up to protect against sunburns. Infants should wear sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses. Make sure infants stay in shaded areas.
By following these tips, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors without feeling a sunburn later.
Libby Curry, D.O., is a physician in the Department of Family Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She practices at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest. Her practice interests include women's health and full-spectrum care for the entire family.