With summer just around the corner, many of us are getting ready take out our summer gear, get outside and get active! Because of the warmer weather most of us start trading the long sleeve shirts and pants for tank tops, shorts and flip flops. That means more of your precious skin is exposed to the harmful UV rays of the sun.
After months of cold, harsh weather most of us are excited to be outside and under the warmth of the afternoon sun. It feels good on our skin and reminds us that the summer is upon us. Unfortunately, unprotected sun exposure accounts for more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the US each year. At this rate 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in his or her lifetime. Physical activity can increase the damage to skin due to many factors, including:
- Exposure time
- Exposure intensity
- Failure to wear protective sunscreen
If you have skin, you need to be conscious of the dangers of UV rays and what it can do to your delicate skin.
Sunscreen, Physical Activity, and Sweat
Outdoor physical activities are fun and cause you to sweat more than if you were playing indoors. Your internal temperature, in addition to the rise in outdoor temperature means your sweat glands are working overtime. As important as it is, it also poses a lot of challenges for playing sports, including:
- The need to reapply more often
- Sunscreen getting into your eyes
- Sand and dirt sticking to the skin
- Skin gets extra slippery when sunscreen mixes with sweat
- The smell of sunscreen can be overpowering for sensitive noses
- White film can form on the skin with some types of sunscreen
Regardless, it is important to find a brand of sunscreen that is both effective and doesn’t interfere with the physical activity (too much).
Sunscreen and Water Sports
When people think of summer, beaches and water come to mind! The tricky thing about water is that it removes sunscreen from the skin. Water also amplifies the intensity of the sun, like a magnifying glass, which makes sun protection even more important. There are several waterproof varieties of sunscreen available on the market (for a slight increase in cost) that provide good coverage for extended periods of time, versus standard sunscreen formulations. The added protection is certainly worth the additional cost!
Sunscreen and Cloudy Days
Just because the sky is cloudy, doesn’t mean you aren’t being affected by the damaging UV rays that come from the sun. UV rays pass through the clouds affect your exposed skin. These are the days where sunscreen may be more important than sunny days because they aren’t typically as warm, you won’t sweat as much, and you will spend more time outdoors without reapplying sunscreen (or may not even feel the need to apply it at all).
Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun
Don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun, too! The eyelid is made up of very thin skin and is designed to protect the eye. But because it is so thin (when your eyes are closed you can still see the light through the skin), the fragile tissues on top and the eyeball underneath can get injured by UV light. This includes the eyeball, lens, and cornea. Be sure to wear sunglasses when you are outdoors. If you are playing sports that are vigorous and require a lot of movement, choose sunglasses with rubberized arms and nosepieces to keep them in place.
8 Sunscreen Tips for Protecting Your Skin
Below are tips for using sunscreen throughout the year when you spend time outdoors (regardless of weather):
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen (with an SPF 30 or more to protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays).
- Put enough on to protect your skin (apply liberally and apply often throughout the day).
- Apply correctly (applied to clean, dry skin 30 minutes before sun exposure).
- Reapply regularly (perspiration, exercise and towel drying removes sunscreen from the skin).
- Apply to any area of skin exposed to the sun.
- Use everyday, regardless of weather (UV radiation is still present on cloudy days).
- Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm (the sun is strongest at these times).
- Children, babies and fair-skinned individuals need greater UV protection.
Final Thoughts …
If you can admit to just “being too lazy” to wear sunscreen, why not consider using an all-purpose body (or face) lotion that already has sunscreen in it? Popular brand of body lotion may include an SPF 15 for general protection any time of year. The best part about it is that you don’t even realize it’s in there! They don’t smell or feel like sunscreen (i.e., sticky, smells like “plastic” or “wax”) and they offer good protection for everyday activities.
Don’t let a nasty sunburn get in the way of a fun and enjoyable summer filled with activities. Make sunscreen a part of your daily routine for younger, healthier skin for life!