Sunburn and sun damage should not be taken lightly. Most  people don’t  realize that skin cancer  is one of the most common cancers in the United States, and it can also be one of the most deadly.  The good news however, is that sun damage is preventable if you take precautionary steps prior to exposure.

Summer safety tips to avoid sun damage and sunburn:

1) Apply a good amount of broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater. Dermatologists recommend a  strength of 15 to 30 and if you are fair skinned, an SPF 30 to 50 is recommended. Unless the sun screen is water proof, re-applying sunscreen should be done every few hours.

2) Wear sun protective clothing,  hats and UV protective sunglasses. There are more and moresummer-safety-tips-to-avoid-sun-damage choices these days, and for long days in the sun, spf protective clothing can be a savior.  The eyes are particularly sensitive to UV radiation and so protecting your eyes is very important. Polarized lenses are a good idea as they prevent UV radiation  and your vision as well.

3) Avoid the sun during the high noon hours, between 10 AM and 2PM. At the very least, if you must be out during these hours, follow the directions above, wearing the clothes, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.

4) Sand reflects up to 15 to 20 percent of the sun’s rays,  hence intensifying the UV rays off of the sand at the beach. You will absorb more sun during a day at the beach than a day hiking or picnicking. Protect your skin accordingly. ( see tip # 2)

5) Beware of snow! Although we’re hardly thinking of fun in the snow in the heat of summer, the fact is that you can get quite a burn from the reflection of the sun on the snow as well. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays, and every thousand feet of altitude increases the suns strength, so if you are going skiing  in high altitudes the sun is that much stronger. Be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen when skiing.

The effects of the sun on the skin can cause long term damage. A sunburn today can lead to more serious conditions later in life, the least of which is premature aging of the skin . Premature aging, sun spots and wrinkles are mere side effects. Much more serious effects such as sunstroke, sun poisoning, cancerous and pre cancerous spots can be signs of squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, which can be life threatening.

Protect your skin!