Living in Tampa, FL where going outdoors is possible all year, sun safety is often on my mind. I’ve had sun poisoning twice, and more than my fair share of sunburns. Even when I thought I was being careful! The reality is that it takes less than 20 minutes to get a sunburn. And, on particularly sunny days, reports have shown you can get one in as little as SEVEN MINUTES! Can you believe that?
Well, with that in mind, I wanted to bring my readers an epic guide to sun safety. Regardless of whether you’re in Florida or traveling to another place this summer, you must protect yourself from the sun. Below you’ll find all kinds of tips and important information to keep in mind while playing outside this summer, and all year round!
This post contains links to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.
The Importance of Sun Safety
The truth about those UV Rays
Most people love to go out and have fun in the sun, but before you can do that safely, there are a few things that need to be considered. The sun, which is our source of light can be dangerous at times if the proper precautions haven’t been taken.
Since this is a known issue, a number of products that have been created to protect you from the light coming through the atmosphere are widely available at almost any store, but why do you need it? Here are some things to know about the importance of sun protection.
The sun’s rays are great for a lot of different things like growing crops, but they also have a very destructive side. Ultraviolet A light has the ability to damage skin and cause premature aging. This damage can cause oxidative stress on skin cells, and can manifest in a variety of cellular anomalies like carcinomas.
This type of Ultraviolet light passes through glass, so you may be able to protect yourself using a UVA blocking film. When unprotected from the sun, these rays can penetrate deep into the layers of your skin.
UVB is somewhat different than UVA in that it can’t pass through glass, but it can be responsible for some of the more serious cancers like melanoma that appear on the surface of the skin. This means that when you are out in the sun, you can be exposed to these rays during anytime of the day.
If you want to avoid exposure, it is recommended that you stay out of the direct sun light from 9:30am to 5:00pm on most days. When you are unprotected, these rays will produce either a skin color change or a burn.
Even when the sun isn’t completely out, you are still at risk of exposure to the radiation coming from the sun. This is particularly true when the weather is overcast. Water particles that are free floating in the air can refract the UVA and UVB in every direction making you an even more easy target for skin issues.
Be sure to be mindful of how much time you spend in the type of weather to avoid burns. Remember that depending on the density of the cloud, a large portion of the UVB radiation will still pass through. It is also important to be extra careful if you are near water, as the light reflects and causes a bad sunburn.
SPF and Sun Safety
What You Should Know About SPF
When you’re thinking about buying sunscreen, making an informed choice isn’t as easy as simply buying the most recognizable name brand, or the one that says it’s good for babies. It’s important to know what the numbers mean, and how they can affect your skin health. If you continue reading this article, you will find that it will share some important information on what you should know about SPF.
What It Means
The Sun Protection Factor, or SPF is a relative measurement of how much light energy it can protect against to prevent a sunburn versus plain untreated skin. A lot of consumers are under the impression that SPF is related to time in which they are exposed to sunlight, but that is a common misconception about sunscreen.
The truth is more nuanced, because there are a variety of factors and variables at work when you are spending time in the sun. These details influence the amount of time each person is able to spend in the sun, and even under a controlled circumstance, the results will vary from one situation to the next.
Variables Affecting SPF
Things like the time of day, the tone of a person’s skin, the amount of time between applications can drastically change the effectiveness of sunscreen. For example, a light skinned person will be more likely to get a sunburn during the afternoon portion of the day than a darker skinned person at the same time of day with the same exposure time.
If it were earlier in the day however, they could spend 2 – 3 times as much time in the sun. In reality, it’s best to always be sure to keep applying sunscreen if you want to stay protected, and it’s a good idea to catch some time in the shade even if you’re wearing it.
More SPF Misconceptions
Companies are well aware that most people don’t understand how SPF works, so they will make products with very high SPF, which gives most consumers the idea that they can put this sunscreen on and hang out in the sun all day. This simply isn’t true, because SPF is only a rating of how much light can hit the sun before a burn occurs. Higher SPF ratings are just saying that less UV light will get through to your skin, but some still does get through.
Sun Safety and Body Parts
Areas of Your Body That Burn the Easiest
Scientists have now discovered that some areas of the body burn very easily. The following explains some of the more vulnerable spots of the body, and what can be done to protect them.
This is probably one of the last places on the body that you think of when you think about getting sunburned, but the armpits are a sensitive area, often not seeing light more than 5% of your day.
When you go shirtless or with very little covering, this sudden exposure can cause more damage than you would expect. It would be a good idea to limit exposure by seeking shade. This is more of a risk when you are laying out in the sun with your arms reached above your head, exposing the underarms.
Generally speaking, women’s breasts spend a lot less time in the light that other areas. These sensitive areas can be burned very quickly depending on skin tone and frequency of exposure to the sun. Sunscreen would be an excellent way to protect the breast and make sure that they are less likely to be burned during your time in the sun.
The skin of your ears is very thin and sensitive, so it should be of very little surprise that the ears can sustain such heavy damage very quickly.
In fact, this thin skin is easily penetrated by harmful UV rays that cause the blood vessels to burst. This can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort.
SPF 30 sunscreen and a shaded area will go a long way to helping you to prevent such an uncomfortable burn.
If you are prone to burn, you should not only wear sunscreen on your ears, but try to wear a hat if you will be outdoors for long periods of time. This will help to protect them from being cooked in the midday sun.
Tops of Your Feet
When applying sunscreen to your legs, don’t neglect your feet. The majority of people spend most of their time in shoes and socks, which gives their feet very little time in a day to build up a stronger defense against the rays of UV that beat down onto them.
A sudden exposure to heavy amounts of UV radiation could result in a serious burn in you aren’t paying attention. Using sunscreen, and being sure to apply it at least one every 2 hours should help to keep your days returning from work from becoming a foot burning nightmare.
Backs of Knees
Even if you do remember to put sunscreen all over your legs, it’s important to note that applying it again is key to making sure that you keep yourself well covered and free from burns. The backs of your knees tend to sweat, which can leave them vulnerable to the UV light that penetrates the sensitive skin back there.
Lastly, it’s very important to pay attention to where your hair parts. If you have a prominent part in your hair and you haven’t protected your scalp with a hat or sunscreen, you are likely to get a sunburn. Be sure to always keep you scalp protected, and you can avoid an unpleasant time the following day.
Summer Sun Safety
How to Protect Your Skin Under the Hot, Summer Sun
Wear A Big Sun Hat
This stylish and popular beach item can help you to keep your face and head protected. When the sun makes your shadow shorter than you, the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and sunburns can result easily if you are exposed to it directly.
A sun hat can protect your skin by shading your face and head, but it won’t be able to give you much coverage other than that. This will leave your shoulders, back, stomach, and legs exposed, so it would be good to use it alongside another method of protection.
Use A Beach Umbrella
This one is simple and effective. Buying a beach umbrella is inexpensive, and can provide shade for more than one person depending on which size you choose. When you need a break from sitting in the sun, you can simply run and get under your beach umbrella.
The only drawback of the beach umbrella, is that it won’t protect you from the ultraviolet radiation being reflected by the sand around you. In order to give your skin better protection, other methods of protection are needed.
Try A Type of Sunscreen
The best way to protect your skin is to wear sunscreen. This is a specially formulated liquid that can block and protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation that penetrates the skin when you are in direct sunlight.
If you are being very active is a good idea to reapply your sunscreen so that you are making sure that it is working at its most optimal level to protect you. If you are swimming, or sweating heavily then it is recommended that you apply it to your skin every 45 minutes to an hour. Keeping up with this practice will protect your skin from cancers could develop without its use.
Water Sun Safety
Protecting Your Skin in the Water
Everyone loves to get into cool water when the weather begins to heat up. Every year people rush to their favorite water spots to swim, hang out with family and bask in the sun, but there are additional things you should keep in mind if you’ll be in the water while trying to protect yourself from the sun.
Also check out my post that is a fabulous pick me up for all ladies!
Chlorine Kills Sunscreen
Have you ever noticed that your time in the pool has been cut short by the beginnings of a burn even though you were wearing sunscreen? If you haven’t you’ve been very fortunate, because studies have shown that chlorine in pools has the ability to lessen the effectiveness of most sunscreen. This means that using it is practically useless in that sort of environment and other solutions are needed.
Use Waterproof Sunscreen
Waterproof sunscreen can be a good option for people looking to spend time in the water but it’s important to note that even a really high SPF sunscreen will lose its effectiveness in an hour or two of play. It is strongly recommended that you apply fresh sunscreen to any areas of the skin that are exposed directly to light.
SPF is a rating of how much UV light gets through to your skin and has nothing to do with how long it will be effective. That being said, there are no sunscreens that are 100% effective at blocking out radiation, so it’s important to take breaks from sitting in direct sunlight.
Even if you are wearing sunscreen and taking the time to apply sunscreen frequently, there’s no guarantee that you can avoid all of the harmful rays of UV light that can penetrate and damage your skin. If you combine the use of sunscreen with sitting under shade, you are more likely to leave the scene without a sunburn.
You can even wear your own shade in the form of a sun hat to help protect your face, and shoulders. These areas are highly vulnerable to the sun and will likely burn before a lot of other areas of the body. If you think ahead and plan for your fun times in the water and sun, you can save yourself the pain of a bad sunburn.
If you are going to spend a lot of time in the water, just be sure to reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours.
Sun Safety – Naturally Protecting Yourself
Did you know that you can protect your skin with natural methods outside of over the counter solutions for sun protection? Fortunately, information has become available to those who want to seek more natural means due to preference or allergy.
These natural methods are easy, inexpensive and can help you to take a healthier approach to your efforts to keep your skin healthy and free of chemicals.
Hang Out in the Shade
This of course is the easier and least expensive to a certain extent. Simply seek cover and shade. You will be able to avoid a lot of the rays that cause damage but beware of reflected light that is more difficult to detect.
Eat Food High in Vitamin D
When you spend time in the sun, your body produces a vitamin that gives your skin a more resilient quality in the form of vitamin D. Studies have shown that consuming more vitamin D rich foods can go a long way in the fight against skin damage by bolstering your skin’s natural defenses from UV radiation.
Foods that are fortified can be a great option for this, but many foods like fatty fish, liver, cheese and eggs. Another positive is that if you do end up with a sunburn, you are more likely to heal in a shorter period of time than if you had less vitamin D.
Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
In ancient time, some cultures would spread coconut oil on the skin before long periods of spending time in the sun or other outside activities. Studies have shown that while the oil itself isn’t as effective as a sunblock, it adds a large portion of the vitamins and minerals that are needed to protect the skin from damage resulting in prolonged exposure to UV radiation.
Eat Heavy Fats
After numerous studies, science has discovered that eating a lot of saturated fats can also have a profound effect on your skin’s ability to protect itself from UV radiation. Many of these fats can be derived from plant means, so that won’t exclude anyone who doesn’t eat meat.
Eat More Tomatoes
The naturally occurring chemical Lycopene, is also associated with a stronger skin defense against UV light. If you were to increase your intake of tomatoes, you would get a heavier dose of lycopene. While all of these methods work, it’s more likely that a combination of them will get you better results.
Sun Safety for Babies
Playing in the sun is essential for childhood development, but the dangers of sun burns and other sun-related illnesses can be a cause for worry in a lot of families. Small children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and other skin issues.
Even though people want to protect their children from harm, well-meaning parents still forget that their children have not yet gained a substantial amount of physical defense against the environment around them.
Children Under 7 Months
If you’re out at the beach, the chances are that you will see some people out there with their 2 – 3-month-old babies. It’s fairly common, and yet the truth is that these people don’t know that the sun can be extremely harmful to children of that age group. In fact, it really isn’t a good idea to take any children under 7 months to spend time in the sun at all.
They are far too undeveloped, and even the sunscreen that is marketed as child safe can be harmful to very young and sensitive skin. The best thing to do, is to wait until they are closer to a year old before you decide to spend extended time outside in direct sunlight. It is also important to remember that light refracts, and reflects off multiple surfaces including sand, so there isn’t really any safe way to have your baby out in those environments.
Children Over a Year
Once your child has reached an age where they have built up some natural defense against light exposure, it’s time to start considering how they will be protected. It would be advisable to limit their time spent in direct sunlight by using a combination of methods. You can buy a large beach umbrella and use sunscreen to help your child to take breaks from sun exposure. When they are under the shade, you can apply a fresh coating of sunscreen to exposed areas.
It’s important to remember that SPF is simply a measurement of how much UV radiation is being blocked, which means that your child won’t be protected absolutely. Applying new sunscreen should be done at least once every 2 hours, but you might want to do it once every hour and 30 minutes.
If they are getting in the water, the applications need to be more frequent. A recommended interval would be an hour or less.
Sun Safety for the Inevitable Sunburn
How to Treat a Sunburn Naturally
Try as you may to protect yourself, you still might end up with a sunburn. If this does happen to you, you’ll need some form of treatment to lessen the symptoms and manage the pain. If you don’t want to use a bunch of chemicals, what are your options?
When you get more hydrated, it will help you to fight off the damage that you get from a sunburn. Directly following your exposure to the sun, go drink some water. A more hydrated body will distribute fluids to the areas that need hydration, and your body can more easily begin the process of healing that is going to follow. It also helps if you go ahead and run some of the cool water over your burned area. This will stop the heat from continuing to cook the layers of skin where the heat is trapped.
Baking Soda Paste
A baking soda paste can help you to heal your burn more quickly. All you have to do is mix some warm water into a cup with a hefty portion of baking soda so that is has a consistency much like a paste. Once is soft enough to rub onto your burn, gently spread the baking soda paste over the burned area of skin. This will help you to alleviate some pain, and allow the body to heal a little more quickly.
Organic Aloe Gel
If you can, pick up some organic aloe gel. This marvelous gel will help to both sooth and heal your skin. It is great for bringing down the inflammation that is caused by burns and will put your skin on the right path to healing.
With this remedy, all you have to do is put some uncooked oatmeal in the bath. If you don’t want the oatmeal freely floating around in the water then you can place the oatmeal into a sock to make it like a large teabag, but you don’t want the water to be too warm or too cold.
It should be water that is about temperature of a bath that has gone cold. One the oatmeal has soaked for about 30 minutes, get into the water.
When to See a Doctor For a Sunburn
For most people, a sunburn is a minor inconvenience that they will treat with remedies found in the home that are kept in a medicine cabinet, or the refrigerator. A good amount of the time, it’s a simple case of resting indoors and rubbing on some aloe, but how do you know when you should seek actual medical attention? Skin burns can be a serious issue, because the sensitive tissues can become inflamed and infected when they are damaged in this way.
When It’s Not Too Bad
Sunburns are super common, so there are a lot of ways that you can treat these burns. The most notable way that you can treat burns is with aloe vera which helps the healing process. You don’t want to apply ice to a burn, which can irritate a fresh burn and make the healing process a more painful and annoying experience.
Instead simply run cool water over the burn to reduce the temperature and stop the damage from progressing any further. You can also take aspirin or any other acetaminophen product to reduce pain.
When You Should Keep Watch
The normal redness that forms in the sunburned area can be expected, but when any more than that can be an indication that you have received a severe burn that has penetrated into the deeper levels of your skin. One major sign of this is when you develop blisters in the burnt area. As soon as you see this symptom.
It is time to get out of the sun and get to treating the area. It would also be a good idea to begin hydration to counteract the skin damage. It may take a full day to see how much damage has been done, so it will warrant close monitoring.
When You Should See a Doctor
When you have experienced not only the redness, but also blisters it can be cause for concern, but anything past those symptoms should move you to seek medical help immediately with urgency. Some of the other factors that can occur could be vomiting, nausea, or disorientation of any kind.
Ignoring these symptoms can be very dangerous and can ever be signs of other more serious conditions like sunstroke. Being aware and knowing what to look for can help you to save a life.
If you have an infant or young child with a burn of any degree, you should bring them to a doctor for proper treatment.
Additional Posts You May Enjoy: