Summer is a wonderful time to get outside, be physically active, and enjoy seasonal activities after being cooped up during Wisconsin winters. Being outdoors and active is good for you in many ways, but sometimes you can get too much of a good thing – like too much sun.
“Time outdoors is an essential part of summer for many of us,” said Dr. Abigail Taub, dermatologist at Aspirus Health in Stevens Point. “Enjoy it, but plan this moment accordingly.”
Putting safety first and taking the necessary precautions will help you have a safe and enjoyable summer. Too much sun exposure can cause sunburn.
UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells, damaging tissue and increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States.
Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to remember when enjoying the heat and sun:
- Limit outdoor activities, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is hottest.
- Apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This will protect you from UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every one to two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Consider mineral sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide). These are naturally broad spectrum and are coral and reef friendly.
- Protect the little ones. It is best to keep infants completely out of the sun for the first six months, but other measures such as sun protective clothing and stroller sun shades are still recommended in case of unintended exposure. Mineral sunscreen can be applied at six months.
- Drink more water than usual.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat.
- Take breaks away from the heat and the sun in a shaded or air-conditioned space.
“Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water,” Dr. Taub pointed out. “It’s a great part of nutrition and it’s great for our skin, but it’s especially important in the summer months when it’s easier to get dehydrated. Our bodies tend to lose a lot of water. when we sweat, so we need to replenish water often when it’s hot.
As you age, your skin slows down its production of collagen, which is one of the main contributors to elasticity. Water is one of the key components of collagen, so that’s another important reason to drink enough water every day.
Be sure to watch for signs of dehydration and not taking in enough fluids, such as:
- extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
Remember to keep an eye out for those most vulnerable to extreme heat and sun, including children, the elderly, and pets.
Dr. Taub tends to patients at Aspirus Stevens Point Hospital. To make an appointment with her, call 715-342-6660. To find an Aspirus Health dermatologist near you, visit www.aspirus.org/find-a-provider. For more information from ACS on sun safety, visit http://www.cancer.org//healthy/be-safe-in-sun.