Summer is a wonderful time to get outside, be physically active, and enjoy seasonal activities after being cooped up during the Wisconsin winters. Being outdoors and active is good for you in many ways, but sometimes you can get too much of a good thing – like too much sun.
“Outdoor time is an essential part of the summer for many of us,” said Dr. Abigail Taub, a dermatologist with Aspirus Health in Stevens Point. “Enjoy it, but plan for that time accordingly.”
Putting safety first and taking necessary precautions will help you have a safe and enjoyable summer. Too much exposure to the sun can cause sunburn.
UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells, damaging tissues and increasing a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States.
Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to remember while out enjoying the heat and sun:
- Limit outdoor activity, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the hottest.
- Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every one to two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Consider a mineral sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide). These are naturally broad spectrum and are coral/reef friendly.
- Shield the little ones. It’s best to keep infants out of the sun completely for the first six months, but other measures such as sun-protective clothing and stroller sunshades are still recommended for unintended exposure. Mineral sunscreen can be applied at six months.
- Drink more water than usual.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat.
- Take breaks from the heat and sun in a shady or air-conditioned space.
“Be sure to drink plenty of water,” Dr. Taub emphasized. “It’s a good part of nutrition and great for our skin, but it’s especially important during the summer months when it’s easier to become dehydrated. Our bodies tend to lose a lot of water when we sweat, so we need to replenish with water often when it’s hot out.”
As you grow older, your skin slows down its production of collagen, which is one of the primary contributors to elasticity. Water is one of the key components of collagen, so that is another important reason to drink enough water every day.
Be sure to watch for signs of dehydration and not taking in enough fluids, such as:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
Remember to keep an eye out for those most vulnerable to extreme heat and sun, including children, older adults, and pets.
Dr. Taub cares for patients at Aspirus Stevens Point Hospital. To schedule an appointment with her, call 715-342-6660. To find an Aspirus Health dermatologist near you, visit www.aspirus.org/find-a-provider. For more information from the ACS about sun safety, visit http://www.cancer.org//healthy/be-safe-in-sun.