Every year we expose ourselves to the sun’s ultraviolet light, often without taking any necessary precautions. Sunburn is a never ending battle, no matter the time of year. Without necessary sun protection, people leave themselves vulnerable to a number of complications.

“Before you go outdoors you should remember to apply sunscreen,” said Linda Carte, RN, MSN, AOCN, vice president of oncology and post-acute care at United Hospital Center. “The sun’s rays can lead to a wide range of problems, from sunburns to skin cancer.”

Carte says that the following are a few facts about the sun that we should all try to remember.

Dangers

“Each year people continue to burn their skin without realizing the severity of the injury,” said Carte.  “Sunburn damages the cells and blood vessels in the skin and can quicken the aging process. Multiple sunburns can also cause skin cancer.”

Annually, there are 5.4 million cases of skin cancer treated in the United States. This is a statistic that could be lowered significantly if we all followed some basic skin safety.

Benefits

It is believed by many that we must all be in the sun for a short amount of time each day to receive our necessary amount of Vitamin D3. This has been proven false over the last few years, as we have developed certain supplements that will supply us with the needed amount.

“You do not need to go unprotected in the sun for your vitamins, if you are going to be out facing the sun’s ultraviolet rays,” said Carte. “You should, at the bare minimum, apply a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.”

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Protection

Being out in the sun for a prolonged period of time is always dangerous. “It doesn’t matter the time of year or how suntanned you are; the sun can still harm you,” said Carte. “Know what type of protection you need before going outside. If you want to be fully protected you should consider certain articles of clothing.”

Wearing a long sleeve shirt, a wide brimmed hat, closed toe shoes and sunglasses that protect 100 percent of UV rays offer great protection. Most importantly, never go outside without first applying a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. You should apply sunscreen repeatedly throughout the day, as sunscreen will sweat off after a period of time.

Type of Sunscreen

It is important for people to realize that not all sunscreens provide good protection. In fact, a recent statistic showed that 40 percent of the top 65 sunscreens (that received highest customer reviews) did not meet dermatologist standards. There is too much emphasis on smell and feel.

“What you should really be focused on before making a purchase is whether or not the sunscreen meets dermatologist standards,” said Carte. “Dermatologists require sunscreens to be SPF 30 or higher, should be water resistant and give broad spectrum protection. If you are buying sunscreens that do not meet all of these requirements, you are putting yourself at risk and wasting your money.”

Those sunny days are ones that we all look forward to and should enjoy, just remember to protect yourself so you can continue to enjoy those days for years to come.

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