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Shield Your Skin: Top Tips for Year-Round Sun Protection

July 05, 2024

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Overexposure to the sun can result in skin cancer, age spots and other skin changes. While preventing skin cancer isn't always possible, you can take steps to protect your skin from UV radiation. Sunscreen plays an important role in protecting your skin from UV radiation. But it can't prevent skin damage if you are exposed to the sun's rays for long periods of time. Experts recommend that you use more than one method to fully protect your skin.

  • Stay out of the sun during the peak hours of UV radiation.
    Peak hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find shade if you need to be outdoors. You can also find how much UV exposure you are getting by using the shadow rule. If your shadow is longer than you, then UV exposure is low. If your shadow is shorter than you, then UV exposure is high.
  • Wear protective clothing.
    Adults and children should wear clothing to protect their heir skin against the sun. This is in addition to applying sunscreen. Suggestions for clothing include:
    • Wide-brimmed hats that protect the face and neck.
    • Tightly-woven clothes made of thick material, such as unbleached cotton, polyester, wool, or silk.
    • Dark clothes with dyes added that help absorb UV radiation.
    • Loose-fitting long-sleeved clothes that cover as much of the skin as possible.
    • Clothes with sun protection factor (SPF) in the fabric that doesn't wash out.
  • Wear sunscreen, with an SPF of 30 or higher, every day.
    This includes summer and winter, on both cloudy and clear days.
  • Use sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation.
    Apply to all exposed skin, including the nose, lips, ears, scalp, back of the hands, and neck. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun. Reapply it every 2 hours and after swimming, exercising, or sweating.
  • Use protective lip balm.
    To protect your lips from getting sunburned, use lip balm or cream that has an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses.
    Choose ones that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Be careful when you are on sand, snow, or water.
    These surfaces can reflect 85% of the sun's rays. Also, be careful in countries near the equator or locations at high elevations.
  • Avoid artificial sources of UVA radiation.
    This includes sunlamps and tanning booths. Like the sun, they can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

The takeaway
The damage caused by the sun is permanent. The best way to lower your risk of skin cancer, wrinkles and age spots is to protect your skin from the sun. This includes wearing sunglasses, using sunscreen and wearing wide-brimmed hats. A child's skin is more sensitive to the sun than an adult's skin and is more easily burned. Babies younger than 6 months should always be completely shielded from the sun. Children 6 months and older should have their skin protected from too much sun.

Sun protection: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.