Thursday, May 29, 2008

Safe sun

Although summer doesn't official start until mid-June, to most people, the start of the summer season begins on Memorial Day weekend, as community pools open and droves of people flock to the beach.

Now, we all know better than to spend time in the sun without sunscreen. Having unsafe sun is just plain risky! Even just 15 minutes in the sun without SPF protection can result in a sunburn. Why put yourself at risk? Really, nothing is worth ending up like this guy.
So, how does one enjoy time in the sun without getting burned?

The first and most obvious answer is to use a suntan lotion with an appropriate SPF (Sun Protection Factor) level. The lighter your skin tone, the higher the SPF level you should use. Also, the amount of time you will spend makes a difference. If you're going to be outside gardening or mowing the lawn for 30 minutes, SPF 15 may be just fine. But if you're going to be at the beach for 4-5 hours you should use a higher SPF like 30 or 45. For exposures longer than an hour you should re-apply your lotion several times. Swimming and perspiring reduce its efficacy.

Once I used suntan lotion left over from the previous summer and got burned, literally. Did you know that suntan lotion loses its efficacy after several months? So don't be cheap (like me) and try to use up last year's left overs - throw them away and buy a new bottle!

I've also been burned when the sun was hidden behind clouds. The sun's ultraviolet rays are still reaching you even when its not "sunny", so you still need SPF protection.

Additionally, limit your sun exposure when possible by spending some time under the shade of an umbrella, or somewhere else that's shady, having a drink or snack indoors, or shopping at boardwalk stores. (You don't have to buy anything.)
Wear a hat, sunglasses, and bring a light-weight shirt you can put on if you think you need to.
But what can you do if you accidentally get sunburned? Here are some sunburn treatments you may or may not know about.

Apply cool, damp cloths to your sunburned areas. You'll be surprised how soothing this is!
Take cool showers or baths. This will help reduce your core body temperature a little, and your skin temperature a lot.
Apply soothing lotions that contain aloe vera, chamomile, or tea tree oil. This will help reduce the 'sting' and give your scorched skin some moisture.
A sunburn can cause a mild fever and a headache. Lie down in a cool, quiet room to relieve the headache. If that's not enough, try a nonprescription medicine to treat your fever or headache such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol or Panadol), Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), Naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn), or Aspirin (Bayer or Bufferin).

There is little you can do to stop sunburned skin from peeling; its part of the healing process, but applying moisturizing lotion may help reduce the itching.
Believe it or not, dehydration can occur more easier than you may think, so drink lots of fluids, especially water, while in the sun and afterward to keep your body hydrated.

So have fun in the sun this summer season, and by all means, make sure to practice safe sun!

Crush du Jour: Ronnie Kroell


cb said...

Thanks mom. And thanks for the picture of peeling skin. Ew.

Anonymous said...

That's very informative. When's your expose on yeast infections? Just kidding. All very good information.