HOLMDEL, NJ - While everybody needs some sun exposure to produce vitamin D (not to mention fun) sunburn and excessive ultra violet (UV) light exposure can not only cause damage to your skin, but sometimes lead to cancer. Michael Marchetti, M.D., of the Emergency Department at Bayshore Community Hospital, and Kevin Roma, M.D. of Riverview Medical Center’s Emergency Department share their advice on safe fun in the sun.
“We live at the shore, it’s no secret that we love the sun,” says Dr. Roma. “But amidst this love for sun and sand, we sometimes forget to protect ourselves from long term harm.” Practicing safe sun exposure habits, such as using sunscreens correctly, staying out of the sun as much as possible, and wearing protective clothing and hats, are essential to keeping the skin healthy. In addition, practicing sun safety can prevent the development of skin cancer later in life.
“The best means of protecting yourself against the damaging effects of the sun is by limiting exposure and protecting the skin,” Dr. Marchetti explains. When you’re outside, wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat to stay out of the sun’s rays.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. Generously apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. “Don’t forget to re-apply the sunscreen every two hours and after swimming.” Says Dr. Roma.
- Wear protective clothing. A long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses should be worn whenever possible.
- Cool off in the shade. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., try to stay in shade between those hours.
- Use extra caution near water and sand. “Most people don’t realize that water and sand reflect the sun’s UV rays,” says Dr. Marchetti. “This extra exposure can seriously increase your risk of getting burnt. Make sure you dress appropriately and bring extra sunscreen.”
- Skip the tan. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you’re going for the “Girl from Ipanema” look, try using a self-tanning product combined with sunscreen.
Following these tips will keep your skin looking young, prevent sunburn and lower your risk of skin cancer.
If you do get sunburnt, taking cool showers can help relieve the pain. After a cool shower, use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera. “Aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce swelling, redness and discomfort caused by sunburn,” says Dr. Roma. “It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water to help your body recover,” adds Dr. Marchetti.