Summer Sun-Safety

‘My worst sunburn ever was…’

By Kimberly Blaker

My worst sunburn ever was from lying out on an overcast day.

I didn’t expect to get much of a tan, let alone sunburned, given the conditions. I was especially unconcerned since I couldn’t see any color change at the time. But by evening, my skin was pinkish-red, and the pain set in. I couldn’t wear clothes and had to call in sick for two days.

Aside from a serious sunburn, there are other equally important reasons to take extra precautions in the sun, especially during the hot summer months.

Skin cancer is the most widely recognized health problem resulting from sun exposure. To reduce your risk:

• Avoid afternoon sun.

• Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher at least 15 minutes before you go out and then reapply every two hours.

• Look for products carrying the Skin Cancer Foundation’s blue seal of approval.

• Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs as well as a hat to shade your face.

The sun’s rays also damage our eyes. Exposure can cause cataracts as well as damage to part of the retina, cornea and lens. Physician Cheryl Khanna of Mayo Clinic recommends wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Also, some sunglass designs offer better protection. The best designs to block out as much UV rays as possible are wrap around or close fitting glasses.

The risks of dehydration and heat exhaustion also increase during warmer months. It’s important to drink several glasses of water every day of the year, but especially during the summer months. If you’ll be in the sun or heat for any length of time, carry plenty of water with you. Better yet, carry sports drinks, since they contain electrolytes. Also, try to restrict outdoor physical activity to cooler parts of the day.

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