For many of us, summer means spending time outdoors. Whether you plan to hang out at the pool, hit the beach, go for a hike, or visit the farmers’ market, remember to protect yourself from the sun’s strong rays. Not only will you prevent an uncomfortable sunburn, but you’ll also protect yourself from more serious conditions like dehydration, sun poisoning, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and an increased risk of skin cancer.
How to protect yourself from the sun
Wear sunscreen. If you plan to be outside at all — whether you are taking out the trash, spending a day at the beach or going for a walk — you need to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen from head to toe. Just 15 minutes in the sun can lead to a sunburn, which increases your risk of skin cancer and skin damage. There are so many great sunscreens these days that aren’t greasy or heavily scented. Find a sunscreen you don’t mind wearing and wear it every day.
Wear a hat and sunglasses. A hat will protect your scalp from sunburn and provide extra protection for the delicate skin on your face. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging effects.
Seek shade. Wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses is a smart start, but you also want to stay in the shade to prevent overheating and excessive exposure. Use an umbrella at the pool or beach, ask for a shaded table at a restaurant, or sit under a tree while picnicking. These simple actions will reduce your sun exposure without spoiling your outdoor fun.
Stay hydrated. Always keep a water bottle with you and sip as often as possible when spending time outdoors. Fruits and vegetables have high water content and can help keep you hydrated. If you are doing intense exercise or sweating heavily, you may want to drink a sports drink to replenish your electrolytes.
Wear loose, breathable clothing. Choose loose, light-colored clothing made from natural fibers, like cotton or linen, to stay as cool as possible. If you must be in the sun all day, look for clothing that is UPF-rated, meaning it protects your skin from the sun.
Plan outdoor activities strategically. Whenever you can, plan outdoor activities when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong: before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
Signs you’ve had too much sun
Too much heat and sun exposure can lead to sun poisoning, dehydration, or heatstroke. Be extra cautious about sun exposure if you are on certain medications or have a serious medical condition.
- Chills and fever
- Cold, clammy skin
- Dizziness or weakness
- Fast, weak pulse
- Intense thirst
- Large or very painful skin blisters
- Muscle or stomach cramping
- Nausea or vomiting
- Upset stomach
Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one have these signs of heatstroke:
- Body temperature above 104 degrees
- Confusion, irritability, or slurred speech
- Heavy breathing
- Hot, red skin that is dry to the touch
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Seizure or coma
Take the time each day to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun and heat, so you don’t miss a moment of summer fun. To find a primary care provider or urgent care location near you, visit pardeehospital.org.