The end of school coincides with the start of summer, meaning more time for kids to spend outdoors. While people may be excited to enjoy the weather after a long winter, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to protecting your skin against the sun.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 80 percent of sun exposure in our lifetime occurs before the age of 18.
“Children and infants should have sunscreen on, along with protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses,” said UP Health System — Bell Nurse Practitioner Beth Beams. “The sunscreen should say that it’s broad-spectrum sunscreen, so it’s covering ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays, and the minimum the SPF should be is 15.”
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure while re-applying every two hours. But the lack of maintaining a proper layer of sunscreen is one of the more common mistakes by people that Beams notices.
“They sometimes think one placement on the skin will last through the day,” she said. “Or they won’t re-apply it after swimming and being active and sweating. Sometimes people don’t put it on thick enough on the skin and miss spots, or they’re not buying strong enough sunscreen.”
Beams suggests minimizing your exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest, especially in July and August. But even if it’s not hot outside, don’t be fooled by the cooler temperatures — you’re still at risk for sun damage.
“Even if it’s chilly and 50 degrees, you can still get sunburnt,” Beams said.
If you do suffer sun damage, it’s important to not get re-exposed to the sun while keeping the sunburn covered. For treatment, you can apply a moisturizing gel such as aloe vera, and for anyone over the age of 10, you can use an after-burn spray that contains lidocaine to alleviate the pain.
Beth Beams is a family medicine nurse practitioner at UP Health System – Bell. You can make an appointment with Beth by calling 906.485.2687.