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Allergies Health Center

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Summer Without Sunburn

Other Prevention Tips continued...

Wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat will help keep the sun off your head, face, and the back of your neck. For the best protection, choose a hat with a tight weave.

Choose clothing carefully. Wearing dark-colored clothing with a tight weave can also limit sun exposure. The darker the color and tighter the weave, the more protection the clothing offers. “A white T-shirt has an SPF factor of about 4,” says Kauvar. “And if it gets wet at the beach or pool, it offers almost no sun protection.” Consider wearing a darker-colored cover-up at the beach or pool instead.

Avoid peak hours. The sun’s rays are strongest from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. A good rule of thumb is to limit your time in the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are.

Seek the shade. Enjoy the outdoors from under the shade of a cabana or a row of trees. Because the sun’s rays reflect off sand and water, it’s a good idea to use multiple umbrellas or a larger shade structure while at the beach or pool. “The more sunlight you can see reflected around you, the more indirect sun you’re getting,” says Kauvar.

Protect your eyes. The delicate skin of the eyelids is a common place for skin cancer. And excessive sun exposure can also lead to cataracts. Choose a pair of sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection rating to protect your eyes from the sun’s damage. Wraparound styles offer the most protection.

Watch your back. It can be hard to keep sunscreen on while you’re swimming, which can leave your back and other parts of your body unprotected. Some companies now make swimwear and clothing that protect from UV rays. These suits and shirts may be especially good for young children who are in and out of the water often.

Don’t forget your lips. Lips can burn too, and they are another common area for skin cancer. “We’re beginning to see many more cases of actinic cheilitis, a pre-cancerous condition usually on the bottom lip caused by sun exposure,” says Leffell. Protect your lips by choosing a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher, and apply it every two hours while you’re in the sun.

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Reviewed on April 08, 2011

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