The article Sun Safety: What to Do Before, During & After Sun Exposure provided tips for enjoying the sun and keeping protected from its harmful rays at the same time. Today’s post provides information regarding unique situations and elements to consider for complete sun safety.
Various factors influence the severity of sun damage. Be sure to keep the following special considerations in mind with regard to sun exposure.
AGE – While everyone needs to use caution with sun exposure, children and the elderly need additional consideration.
- Children get most of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18, so they need more sun protection during that time.
- The elderly and infants both have very thin skin making them even more sensitive to sunburn.
Children and the elderly need to stay covered as much as possible and to consistently wear sunscreen.
SKIN – First consider skin complexion. According to the American Cancer Society, while any skin shade can be damaged by the sun, individuals with lighter skin are especially at risk.
Other factors relating to the skin that increase the possibility of severe sun damage and cancer include:
- Having had skin cancer previously
- Having a family history of skin cancer
- Having lots of moles, having freckles and burning before tanning.
Protection in these situations is the same as with the elderly and children, cover up and wear sunscreen.
INSECT REPELLENTS AND MAKEUP – Both can decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen. Experts at the American Cancer Society recommend putting sunscreen on before applying makeup and/or insect repellent. Sunscreen needs to be right next to the skin to be most effective.
In addition, insect repellent can reduce the SPF of sunscreen by up to 1/3, so increase the SPF and reapply sunscreen more often when pairing with insect repellent.
LOCATION – Because the sun is stronger near the equator, getting sunburned happens more quickly. Also, the sun is more intense in high altitudes with thinner air and thinner cloud cover. So don’t forget to reapply sunscreen often and to wear a higher SPF in warmer and higher locations.
Some less-thought-of aspects regarding sun exposure involve the UV Index, Vitamin D and alternative tanning methods.
UV INDEX – According to the US EPA, “the UV index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways to prevent sun overexposure.” It helps know when to avoid being in the sun and when being outside is safer. The National Weather Service and EPA issues the UV Index forecast daily to help plan outdoor activities.
VITAMIN D – Most people realize we get Vitamin D from being in the sun. However, some sources believe that getting Vitamin D safely means getting it “from your diet or vitamin supplements rather than from sun exposure.” Other sources, such as The Archives of Internal Medicine, state that, “summer is a great time to stock up on the nutrient.” And most people will admit that being in the sun for a little bit each day helps elevate mood, which Vitamin D is noted to be associated with doing. If you seek sun exposure to increase Vitamin D levels, do so minimally.
ALTERNATIVE TANNING – The American Cancer Society notes that while tanning lotions and pills claim to give a tan without sun exposure, users should proceed with caution. Some may be safe and effective, others may not work, and still others could be harmful. Do your research on products before using.
With certainty, though, all scientific sources indicate the danger of tanning beds. The EPA states that everyone should avoid tanning beds because “UV light from tanning beds… causes skin cancer and wrinkling.” In addition, the American Cancer Society reports that “people who use tanning beds are more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than never users, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota.”
Combine the tips given in Sun Safety: What to Do Before, During & After Sun Exposure with the special considerations and additional thoughts in this article to ensure receiving the best possible protection against the sun’s harmful rays.