Posted by: Skin and Cancer Institute in Medical Dermatology

Father and son grilling

Sun safety is important all year, even as you head into the fall months. With Labor Day just around the corner, now is the perfect time to brush up on your sun safety knowledge and ensure you’re taking steps to protect yourself from harmful UV rays this Labor Day weekend and beyond!

Overall, the best things you can do to protect yourself are to wear sunscreen, and protective clothing, seek shade, stay hydrated and out of the sun during peak heat hours and limit your time outdoors. Let’s delve into all the ways this translates into regular life.

Wear sunscreen

Anyone who has ever had a sunburn can attest that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can be highly damaging to the skin. UV rays can cause wrinkles, age spots, and even skin cancer. Dermatologists, therefore, recommend that everyone use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when spending time outdoors.

Make sure your sunscreen is broad-spectrum.

While there are various sunscreen options on the market, experts agree that broad-spectrum sunscreen is the best choice. Broad spectrum sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays, which means it’s effective at preventing aging and sunburns.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB Rays?

UVA (aging) rays cause premature aging and wrinkles. UVB (burning) rays, on the other hand, are responsible for sunburns. So, the next time you’re planning a day in the sun, wear sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

What is SPF?

Sun Protection Factor or SPF measures how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB (burning) rays. The higher the SPF number, the greater the level of protection.

Why SPF 30 is recommended

Dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30 because it blocks close to 97 percent of UV rays. That’s serious sun protection! Still, no sunscreen can provide 100 percent coverage, so it’s crucial to pair sunscreen with other protective measures like limiting time in the sun, seeking shade, and covering up with clothes.

Apply sunscreen liberally

Did you know most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen? That means they’re not getting its full benefit. So make sure to use your sunscreen liberally. And remember to cover all exposed skin, including your ears, nose, lips, feet, and hands. Reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

Cover up

In addition to wearing sunscreen, it’s also good to wear clothing that covers your skin. Many fabrics, including cotton and linen, have a natural SPF of around 5. However, many clothing manufacturers sell clothes with built-in SPF. These garments are often made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon and can provide an SPF of 30 or more.

In addition to clothing, some accessories can help to keep you safe from the sun. Hats, for example, can provide excellent protection for your face, neck, and head. And sunglasses not only shield you from the sun’s glare but also help prevent wrinkles and age spots near your eyes.

Look for shade

Take refuge in the shade, especially during peak sun hours. That’s because prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause skin damage, dehydration, and heat stroke. So on days when the temperature is soaring, it’s best to stay out of the sun. Instead, seek out shady spots beneath trees or umbrellas, or take cover in an air-conditioned building.

Get out of the sun during peak hours.

It’s important to stay indoors during peak hours when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Peak hours vary depending on the time of year and location, but they typically fall between 10 am and 4 pm. 

Stay hydrated

On hot days, it’s essential to stay hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion. However, this can be easier said than done. Dehydration can sneak up on you, so it’s crucial to be proactive about staying hydrated. Here are a few tips:

• Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go, and drink from it regularly. If you’re going to be outside for an extended time, pack a cooler with ice-cold water or other drinks.

• Avoid alcoholic beverages, as they will cause you to lose more fluids.

• Eat foods high in water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Following these tips ensures that you stay hydrated on hot days and avoid heat-related illnesses.

Summary

Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to enjoy fun in the sun. However, it’s important to take some basic precautions to ensure that you don’t end up with a painful sunburn or other types of sun damage. 

First, always make sure to apply sunscreen before heading outside. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and be sure to reapply it every few hours, especially if you’re sweating or swimming. 

Second, try to stay in the shade as much as possible and wear protective clothing and accessories such as long sleeves, hats and sunglasses. 

Finally, remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so plan your outdoor activities accordingly and stay hydrated! 

By following these simple tips, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend and beyond.