Doctors say hats, light, long-sleeved clothing and sunscreen are the best way to protect against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Dr. Jennifer Lee, a general practitioner, said the sun damages skin throughout a person’s lifetime, and some of the harmful effects are sunburns, premature aging or skin
“Sun exposure happens over a lifetime, because we all enjoy the outdoors, and you should enjoy the outdoors,” she said. “This is accumulative damage from the sun, so you want to think about protecting the skin.”
Education is the key to lifelong healthy skin, she said, beginning with parents teaching their children the importance of wearing sunscreen and the proper way to do so. Lee said a sunscreen with a SPF, or sun protection factor, of 15 or greater is best. The sun’s harmful rays can cause up to second-degree burns if a person stays out in the sun long enough without some type of protection, especially when near or in water.
“The mistakes people make with sunscreen is number one, they don’t put on enough, and number two, they don’t reapply it often enough,” she said.
If a person is sweating, in or near water, sunscreen should be reapplied at least every hour and a half, and use 1 ounce of sunscreen each time it is applied.
Lee said if a person is sunburned, the damage is done, and all that’s left to do is allow the skin to heal and apply topical treatments for the pain. Over-the-counter painkillers, such as Tylenol, or ibuprofen, will help with the pain, she added.
“With any burn, you always want to make sure you don’t get a secondary infection, because the skin’s job is to protect us from infection,” she said. “The most important thing is not to pretend sun damage is not happening, because the sun is damaging your skin, and you have to be wary of it so that you’ll make good choices now and later.”