Reine: Tips to Protect Yourself from the Sun this Summer

Published 12:05 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

Summer brings vacations and pool time, often involving extensive time in the sun. With the heat and sun, taking proper caution to protect yourself is more important now than ever.

It is essential to stay hydrated when spending time in the heat and sun this summer. Drink plenty of fluids, including water or low-sugar sport drinks containing electrolytes to avoid dehydration. Be mindful of your alcohol intake and consume alcohol in moderation.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can cause skin cancer, wrinkles and eye damage. It may be surprising, but skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sunscreen is the most essential item when spending time in the sun. It should also be used daily. Sunscreen should include broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, water- resistance and SPF 30 or greater. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends most adults use about one ounce of sunscreen to cover the body. That is a generous application enough to fill a shot glass. Reapplication is the key to sun protection. It is recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours even if the sunscreen being used is water-resistant. Sunscreens with higher SPF do not last longer than sunscreens with a lower SPF. A sunscreen stick can help make application easy, especially for children. If wearing makeup, try using powder sunscreen to apply throughout the day.

Apply an initial application of sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outside. There are many great moisturizers that you can purchase over the counter which contain SPF 30 that can be incorporated into your daily morning skincare routine.

Sun exposure can cause the development of cataracts resulting in extensive eye damage. When picking out a pair of sunglasses, be sure the lenses have UV light protection or blocking. The lenses should have UVA and UVB protection blocking out at least 99% of UV rays. UV protection is also available for eyeglass lenses and contact lenses.

In addition to sunglasses, a hat is a great accessory when spending time in the sun. It is fashionable and protects you from the sun by acting as a physical barrier. Another great physical barrier is sun-protective clothing such as a rash guard or light-weight long-sleeve shirts. These do not replace sunscreen. Wearing both together is the most effective.

Protecting your lips, ears, scalp, neck and feet is also important. Try to remember these areas when applying sunscreen, and make sure to use a lip balm that includes SPF 30 protection. When spending time outside in the sun, always try to find shade and do your best to avoid being in the sun between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. These are peak hours of UV radiation. Whether sunny or cloudy, protection is still needed from UV rays when spending time on the water as the rays can reflect off the water.

The best tip this summer is to listen to your body and know your limits. If you begin to feel ill, stop what you are doing, retreat to a cool environment inside, and drink some water. Do not overexert yourself. Signs of heat stroke can entail heavy breathing, headache, elevated heart rate and confusion. Contact 911 immediately for an emergency.

Summer is a time for rest, relaxation, family, friends and fun. Taking the proper protection precautions helps to ensure a good time for all.

Dr. Addy Reine is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and completed her residency in 2020. She has been on staff at Ochsner since July 2020. Dr. Reine specializes in internal medicine. Dr. Reine received her medical degree in 2017 from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed her internship and residency at LSU Health Sciences Center in Baton Rouge. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Reine at Ochsner Health Center – River Parishes (735 West 5th Street, La Place), visit www.ochsner.org or call 985-652-3500.