Keep your skin safe when enjoying the summer sun
While enjoying your time outdoors this summer, make it a priority to protect your skin. Skin that is unprotected can be easily damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Although sun exposure to the skin can take up to 12 hours to show the full effect, it takes as little as 15 minutes for UV rays to become damaging.
So when you are exposed to the sun, make sure to use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The higher the SPF, the better. Go for broad-spectrum sunscreens, which protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays. Make sure the product is not past its expiry date. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years.
Broad-spectrum products provide protection against the sunís UVB and UVA rays. The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measurement of the amount of UVB protection. The higher the number, the greater the protection.
Donít spend any longer in the sun than you would without sunscreen. Sunscreen should not be used as an excuse to stay out in the sun. Instead, it offers protection when exposure is unavoidable. The summer sun is most damaging to your skin in the middle of the day. Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, under umbrellas, trees, canopies or indoors.
Remember that water washes off sunscreen and the cooling effect of the water can make you think youíre not getting burned. Water also reflects UV rays, increasing your exposure. Even ëwaterproofí sunscreens should be reapplied after going in the water.
If you do get sun burnt, painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, will ease the pain by helping to reduce inflammation. Sponge sore skin with cool water, then apply soothing after-sun or calamine lotion. If you feel unwell or the skin swells badly or blisters, seek medical help.
Remember also that childrenís skin is more delicate and very easily damaged by the sun. Use a high factor sunscreen and choose a broad-spectrum brand that has a four or five-star rating.
Apply it to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands. Choose sunscreens that are formulated for children and babiesí skin, as these are less likely to irritate their skin.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body cannot lose heat fast enough. If itís not treated quickly, it can lead to heat stroke, which is a much more dangerous condition. Signs of heat exhaustion include faintness, dizziness, palpitations, nausea, headaches, low blood pressure, tiredness and confusion.
If somebody is showing signs of heat exhaustion, get them to rest in a cool place, ideally a room with air conditioning.
Give them plenty of water and monitor their condition closely.
The summer sun offers a welcome reprieve from the dreary winter months, just remember to keep your skin safe!