With summer on the way, the days are getting longer and folks will be spending more time outdoors. This time of the year is when the sun’s rays become more powerful and it becomes even more important to protect your skin while you are enjoying our wonderful outdoors.
The harmful rays of the sun are ultraviolet rays. These UV rays damage the DNA of your skin cells, which can cause skin cancer and premature wrinkling of the skin. Many people ask “When should I worry about protecting my skin from damaging sun rays?” The answer is all year around. While the worst day of the year is the longest day – June 21st, many people think that the most intense sun rays are in July and August. In actuality, the two months before the first day of summer are just as bad. So many people go out in spring and get sunburned because the weather is cooler and it doesn’t seem like they are getting much sun exposure. It doesn’t have to be hot to get sunburned.
The time of day is also a large factor in the amount of sunrays we are exposed to. During the hours of 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., the sun’s rays are strongest and can cause damage more quickly. Outdoor activities should be limited during these hours. Reserve your yard work or playtime to the early morning or evening hours to avoid as much exposure as possible.
Protection from the sun can be very simple.
Wear long sleeved, breathable shirts.
Wear a hat with a 2-inch brim all the way around.
Use sunscreen on exposed skin.
Use a sunscreen of at least an SPF of 30 or greater. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. An SPF of 30 means that when applied appropriately, the sunscreen will allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer that you could without it and not burn.
The biggest mistake people make is not applying enough product for adequate protection. An adult should apply at least one ounce (about a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover the entire body. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2-3 hours, especially when swimming or if you’ve been sweating. Clear spray sunscreen works well for swimmers and tends to stay on longer in water.
While many people like to get a some color on their skins from a tan, the American Academy of Dermatology’s position on tanning is that there is no safe tan – this includes tanning at a salon. Tanning is the skin’s way of protecting itself against the harmful effect of sunrays or ultraviolet light. Bottom line: WHEN YOU ARE TANNING, YOU ARE DAMAGING YOUR SKIN.
Have a great summer and remember to protect your skin in the sun!
Scott Bennion MD, Dermatologist
Fellow American Academy of Dermatology and American College of Physicians
Central Wyoming Skin Clinic
1701 E "K" St.
Casper, WY 82601
Club number: 307.234.2456
Program Support: 307.235.4079