Ah, summer! You’ve waited all year to dive into a summer of swimming fun. Before diving in; however, you’ll want to make sure to protect your skin from the sun. A common problem during the summer months – especially in Arizona, which is already breaking records – sunburn can cause skin to become tender, red and scaly (the latter happens as it heals). Sunburn can also cause long-term damage.
Sunscreen Minimizes Risk of Sunburn
Have you ever wondered how sunscreen works? In a nut shell, sunscreen protects your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Sunscreen, also commonly referred to as sunblock, is rated by a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. The higher the number, the stronger the protection. It is now possible to find sunscreen with an SPF of 70 or higher.
There are many protective ingredients in sunscreen, which fits broadly into two groups: organic and inorganic. Organic sunscreen takes advantage of the first law of thermodynamics by absorbing ultraviolet rays before they harm the skin. Inorganic sunscreen, on the other hand, works by reflecting ultraviolet rays away from the skin. “Broad spectrum” provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
The length of time a user can reasonably expect sunscreen to protect varies depending on which outdoor activities the user will be partaking in that day. For the best protection, reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours (yes, even on cloudy days), and after swimming or getting wet. The general recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology is to use a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher.
Other Ways to Prevent Sunburn
- Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., according to the Sun Safety Alliance.
- Wear lightweight, protective clothing. Moisture-wicking athletic wear with UV protection is a good choice.
- Generously apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. It is now possible to find sunscreen with an SPF of 70 or higher.