It's already officially summer, and for the next few months that means a seemingly endless supply of sunshine. But whether you're out on a hiking trip, going for an extended bike ride or sitting by or swimming in the pool, there is one thing to keep in mind: enjoying the sun also means being careful. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the sun can damage both skin and eyes, increasing your risk of certain cancers and ocular diseases. But don't let that stop you and your family from enjoying every last ray. Here are four safety tips for when you head outdoors this summer and beyond:
"The sun's at its peak between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m."
1. Plan your outings
If you're really concerned about sun damage, you can always ride your bike or hit the pool outside of peak hours. The Sun Safety Alliance explained that the sun is most radiant between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even if you're still outside during non-peak hours, it's just as important you follow the same guidelines, like wearing a hat and applying sunscreen. Just be aware that you can't rely on clouds to stop harmful rays. As American Scientist pointed out, clouds are more likely to keep out visible light than ultraviolet rays.
2. Soak up the sunscreen
With so many brands and levels of SPF available, many people get confused about just what kind of sunscreen to use. The Environmental Working Group said to stick to an SPF between 15 and 50. Any lower and it's not effective, but sunscreen over 50 might keep you outside for too long. Always be on the lookout for sunscreens that contain Mexoryl SX or zinc oxide. The real key to sunscreen, though, is to apply it regularly. If you're ever unsure the last time you applied, do it again, just in case.
3. Protect your head
People may wear sunscreen, but many forget to protect their head and face. Not only do both parts of your body need sunscreen, but the American Cancer association suggested wearing hats and sunglasses. For the former, you want one with at least a three-inch brim, which will protect the whole head. Non-reflective undersides are also key, as they block excess UV rays. As for sunglasses, you want something that blocks 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Forget darker lenses; you just need sunglasses that cover as much of the eye area as possible.
4. Eat a good meal
You wear hats, glasses and sunscreen to protect your skin. But did you know there are also steps you can take to guard your skin before ever stepping outside? As The Greatist explained, there are several foods renowned for strengthening your skin. Fatty fish and shellfish are rich in omega-3 acids, and these can protect skin cells from free radical damage caused by sun exposure. Lycopene, found in red and orange vegetables or fruits, is a pigment that prevents UV-related skin irritations. The same goes for dark chocolate, which features powerful flavanoids. Serve some of these items at your next summer cookout.
If you still experience a sunburn or other form of skin irritation, head indoors to your nearest CareWell Urgent Care Center. At any of the two dozen or so facilities on the East Coast, CareWell's team of doctors can handle your skin care needs without cutting into precious summer fun.