May Tip of the Month: Sun Safety & Outdoor Activities

During the summer months, people do more outdoor activities and, unfortunately, expose themselves to injury. One type of injury that most active individuals do not consider is one caused by the sun.

Woman running in the sunThe sun accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging, such as wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer.

There are two types of solar radiation that can damage our skin – UVB and UVA. UVB radiation affects the outer layer of skin, and is responsible for sunburns. UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin, and can cause premature skin aging and skin cancer.

Sunscreen is the most effective product in protecting sun-exposed skin and preventing problems in the short and long-term. Each sunscreen product has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF). SPF is a numerical measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin – as the SPF number increases, so does the strength of protection.

Although sunscreen use is popular, most people do not apply sunscreen properly. According to studies, the average person only applies about 50% of the recommended amount. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you should apply 1 ounce of sunscreen (or enough to form a “film” over the skin) 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.

A recent study suggests that sunscreen is most effective when reapplied every 20-30 minutes, or after swimming/sweating. Surprisingly, you can better avoid skin damage by using a sunscreen with a lower SPF often and consistently than applying a sunscreen with a higher SPF intermittently.

Whatever outdoor activities you are doing this spring, make sure you look after your skin – you will be thankful in years to come.

Stay safe and active!