While we all love soaking up the sun in the summer, it's important to remember that exposure can cause immediate damage to your skin, as well as lasting damage that may not appear right away. Long term effects may include skin cancer, skin damage(premature wrinkles & brown spots), cataracts, heat stroke or an increased number of fever blisters.
Sunburns occur when skin is damaged by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. This is evident when the skin appears red with some mild stinging- also known as a first-degree burn on the outer layer of the skin. When a burn is very red, painful to the touch and has blisters, this may mean that a deeper layer of skin has been damaged (the result of a second-degree burn). There are a number of preventative measures you can take to stop sun damage.
Stay in the Shade!
People with fair or freckled skin, or who have red or light-coloured hair and blue eyes are more susceptible to sun damage due to their lack of pigmentation. Children who are younger than six and adults who are older than 60 are also prime targets. If you fall under these categories, it is best to avoid being out in the sun from 10am-4pm, when UV Rays are at their strongest. Also avoid reflective surfaces such as water, snow, light-coloured sand, and concrete.
Remember that UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so always wear a wide brimmed hat and UV protected sunglasses. For clothing, opt for light loose materials. Dark colors attract the sun more than light colors.
Sunscreen is a must when hanging out in the sun-- but which is the best kind for your family? Start by choosing the right SPF (Sun Protection Factor). According to the American Melonoma Foundation, SPF refers to the suncreen's capacity to block out UV rays. The higher it is, the more protection it provides against harmful UV rays for example, an SPF of 15 absorbs 93% of ultraviolent radiation, while and SPF of 34 abosorbs 97%. Thereforem an SPF of 30 is the minimum you should use, and those who fall in the above categories should consider a even higher SPF to assure 100% absorption. Always remember to generously re-apply sunscreen after sweating or swimming!
If you are suffering from a sunburn, taking medications such a ibuprofen or aspirin may help the irritation. Using cool compresses with milk and water or applying an aloe vera lotion may also calm the irritated skin. Avoid oils, bath salts and perfumes, as they may irritate the skin further. Also avoid topical anaesthetic medications as frequent use may lead to sensitization and thus an allergic reaction down the road. If your sunburn is sever or if you have concerns, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
The best way to avoid a sunburn, is to avoid the sun!