It’s nearly impossible to avoid the allure of a sunny day. With barbeques, pools, and other outdoor activities beckoning us, it is important to make sure you stay smart in the sun. We may think that because we have more melanin, that we can be more lax but that simply isn’t the case. In fact, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery has said that melanoma – the most deadly and aggressive form of skin cancer – has actually been on the rise among Latinos over the last 15 years. So how do you protect yourself? Here are some tips:
Don’t forget your SPF. Many companies are adding SPF protection to their daily body lotions. This is a great way to multi-task and to protect yourself without much second thought. If you plan to spend the day outdoors, sunscreen is a must. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it before you put on any clothes. This will ensure that you cover your entire body without missing any spots. It will also protect the areas covered by clothes (clothing does not provide absolute protection from the sun and it is possible for these areas to burn and become damaged). Re-apply every two hours or after you’ve spent time sweating or in the water. Areas to be especially attentive to? Your ears, the back or your neck, the tops of your feet and your left arm. These areas are often forgotten or overlooked.
Dress smart. When purchasing sunglasses, make sure they come with the guarantee that they provide broad spectrum protection (meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays). Don’t assume that because a pair has especially dark lenses or cost you a lot of money that they will provide adequate protection. If you know you are going to be outside for a while, wear a hat. Your scalp is prone to burns because hardly anyone thinks to put sunscreen there.
Protect your burns. Sometimes it happens. Despite best efforts, sunburns still occur. It’s important to take care of these burns. Give yourself a cool bath or apply cool compresses to your burned areas. Soothing creams with aloe work wonders on providing relief. Ibuprofen can also help you feel better. If you are peeling or your skin is blistering, leave it alone! The only exception is to put a gentle moisturizer to help with discomfort. Touching can not only lead to scarring, it exposes the delicate tissue to bacteria and can cause infection. It is of utmost importance that you protect your burned skin from the sun.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. For many of us, the summer brings heat that we don’t experience at any other point in the year. Maintaining your lifestyle – especially if you are active – can leave you more just just a little parched. Avoid dehydration by upping your water intake – especially before, during and after activities that make you sweat. Can’t get into drinking regular ice water? Fill your pitcher and throw in some chopped lemons, limes, mint or cucumbers. It’s a great way to add a little flavor and end up totally refreshed.
With all of the current research about sun damage and skin cancer, finding products that offer full UVA/UVB protection – and adding them to your routine – is much simpler. Taking a few extra minutes to hydrate and protect yourselves will ensure you have a great summer and many more carefree summers to come.