Summer survival series: Sun protection 101


Whether you’re mowing the lawn, sitting by the pool or chasing kids through the sprinklers, it’s easy to lose track of how long you’ve been outside. That is, of course, until you feel that telltale tingling or itchiness that means you’re going to look like a lobster soon.

Here are our best tips to avoid – and, if necessary, treat – a sunburn:


What’s the best defense against sunburn?

Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher ““ anything lower won’t offer adequate protection. Apply sunscreen to any uncovered skin 30 minutes before you go outside and once you’re out there, reapply every two hours.

Be sure to read the usage label carefully. You may need to shake or mix the bottle before applying it.

In addition to your sunscreen, wear longer sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for maximum protection. Stay in shaded areas as long as possible.


What should I look for in sunscreen?

Children and adults have different sunscreen needs ““ what you need won’t necessarily protect your little ones. Read labels carefully to find the right sunscreen for your skin type, and to ensure the lotion protects against UVA and UVB rays.

“Look for the sunscreens that contain the minerals zinc or titanium,” said Dr. Holly Gunn, a dermatologist with St. Elizabeth Physicians. “These are less likely to sting or burn the eyes.”


How to treat that sunburn

Despite applying sunscreen before you left the house, you missed a spot or maybe you forgot to bring your sunscreen along to reapply. It happens.

Here’s what to do according to the American Academy of Dermatology:

  1. Get out of the sun.
  2. Put a cold, damp cloth on your skin
  3. Apply a moisturizer with soy or aloe vera
  4. Take ibuprofen to reduce swelling
  5. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration
  6. Don’t pop or pick blisters or peel away any skin
  7. Go to the doctor if you feel dizzy, nauseous or weak
  8. Avoid getting burned again until this one heals

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention declared today “Don’t Fry Day”  and, with Memorial Day as the unofficial kick-off for summer, this weekend is the perfect time to remind your loved ones to apply sunscreen generously and frequently. Read more about skin cancer prevention here.