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How to Safely Catch Some Rays This Summer With These Helpful Tips

Couple enjoying sunshine on the beach

Plan on “catching some rays” poolside or at the beach this summer? Play it safe, as too much sun can cause more harm than good. Examining your skin monthly and getting a yearly check up from a dermatologist are some ways to ward against skin cancer. In addition to staying in the shade and avoiding sun exposure during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., here’s how to protect yourself from the sun:

Sunscreen

Use sunscreen and reapply every two hours — or more often if sweating or swimming. When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher are suggested, but for longer periods of time outside, use a water-resistant SPF 30.

Lips: When putting sunscreen on your face, don’t forget the lips. Also, use lip balm with sunscreen. Makeup or lipstick without sunscreen does not provide any sun protection.

Ears: Skin cancers are disproportionately concentrated to the head, compared to other parts of the body. Ears can be a focal point for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The head is often neglected because hats may be seen as unfashionable or unnecessary. The best bet is to wear a wide-brim hat that covers the ears and provides shade to the face and neck.

Eyes: Protect eyes with UV sunglasses. Long hours in the sun without eye protection increase the chances of certain eye diseases. Do your homework before purchasing a pair of sunglasses. Hats are also helpful in blocking the sun, but be sure to wear one with at least a 3-inch brim.

  • Check the label. Sunglasses should block 99 percent to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Glasses labeled as “cosmetic” only block 70 percent of UV rays.
  • No label should be assumed as no protection.
  • Some contact lenses provide UV protection; however, they always should be paired with sunglasses because they don’t cover the entire eye.

Feet: Don’t forget to protect feet. Apply sunscreen to the tops and soles of the feet and in between the toes. If laying at the beach or poolside, don’t forget to coat the bottom of the feet as well.

Scalp: Don’t assume the scalp is protected by hair. The scalp actually receives more UV exposure than any other part of the body. Be sure to wear a hat or apply sunscreen to the scalp.

For an RWJBarnabas Health dermatologist near you, please visit our Physician Directory.