As the summer months approach and the weather begins to warm, many people become excited to be able to enjoy the outdoors. Along with spending time in the warmer temperatures outside comes more exposure to the sun’s rays. While avoiding sun exposure is the best way to prevent the rays from affecting your skin, there are still ways to enjoy outdoor activities safely.
Sunburns are the most common effect of long-term sun exposure. However, just because you do not get a sunburn does not mean damage was not done to the health of your skin. Along with cosmetic and aesthetic changes to your skin, the ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause unhealthy and, in severe cases, harmful effects.
When outdoors, physically blocking the sun’s rays is the best defense. Whether a wide-brimmed hat or long sleeves, covering your skin with opaque material will prevent the UV rays from reaching your skin. It is also important to remember that UV rays can reflect off other surfaces like the ground and do not solely come from where the sun is positioned.
While this is helpful in cooler temperatures, it becomes uncomfortable as the temperatures continue to rise. When you cannot wear longer garments or a wider hat, sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) will help block UV rays.
In general, the higher the SPF of the sunscreen, the more effective it is at blocking both UVA and UVB rays. However, once above SPF 30, the increase in effectiveness slightly slows. SPF 30 sunscreen blocks about 97% of UVA and UVB radiation, while SPF 50 is effective against 98%.
It is also important to remember to reapply sunscreen often during longer outdoor activities. This is especially true with periods with a lot of sweat or exposure to water.
The best way to ensure you keep healthy skin is with regular exams by a dermatologist. Call Dr. Shondra Smith, Dermatology and Advanced Aesthetics in Lake Charles, LA, at 337-477-0011 or visit www.shondrasmithmd.com to schedule an exam or to learn how to best protect your skin against sun exposure.