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Fun in the Sun: 4 Tips to To Keep You Sun-Safe

Posted by Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES on 10 August 2017
Fun in the Sun: 4 Tips to To Keep You Sun-Safe

Summer is in full swing!

With vacations and cottage trips lined up for the summer, there are so many outdoor activities to choose from camping, kayaking, golfing, beach volleyball, and tennis, just to name a few. In the midst of all this excitement, one thing is often left on the back burner sun protection. Protecting yourself from UV rays can reduce your chance of skin cancer, premature aging, and damaging your skin and eyes.

SEMI is here to help with these four tips to make sure that you're having fun in the sun safely.

1. Check the UV Index

Check the UV index daily and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. Try to stay out of the sun when the UV index is 3 (moderate UV exposure), or between 11 AM 3 PM, when UV rays are typically the strongest.

A common mistake is to look at the weather forecast and forget about sun safety when there is rain or cloudy skies.

Remember: UV rays can penetrate glass, clouds, fog and smog, and can reflect off of surfaces like water, snow and concrete.

2. Use Sunscreen Properly

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends purchasing sunscreen products with SPF 30 or higher, which offers a broad spectrum of protection (against UVA and UVB rays), and are water-resistant.

Read the instructions on the back on how to apply and how frequently to reapply. Here are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before sun exposure but it's never too late to put on sunscreen if you forget!
  • Reapply after sweating, swimming and drying off with a towel.
  • Spread and rub in sunscreen thoroughly, even if you're using a spray sunscreen, to ensure you don't leave any areas unprotected.
  • Common areas missed are the ears, lips, top of the feet/toes, and the back of the hands.

Sunscreen has an expiry date! Do not use it if the expiry date has passed; the sunscreen will not be effective in protecting you against UV rays. Another sign that your sunscreen has expired is a change in colour or smell.

3. Cover Up & Wear Sun-Protective Clothing

Protect your skin and eyes from the sun by covering up. Wear sunglasses, sun-protective clothing and a hat.

  • Look for sunglasses labeled UV 400 or 100%.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants, as normal clothing does offer protection from UV rays. Tightly woven and heavier fabric as well as darker colours can absorb/block out UV light better than open weave fabric and lighter colours. You can also look for clothing labelled UPF50+. These items are especially made to block out most UVA and UVB rays.
  • Remember: for any type of clothing, as the material gets worn, overstretched, or wet UV protection goes down.
  • Wear a hat! Don't forget to protect your scalp, face, and neck. Baseball hats often don't cut it try wearing sun hats or bucket hats.

4. Seek Shade

Find natural shade from trees or create your own with sun umbrellas or tents. Seeking shade is an effective way to avoid direct sun exposure. However, be aware that UVA and UVB rays can still reflect off of other surfaces and penetrate your skin.

Keep these 4 general tips in mind during your outdoor activities to ensure you're being sun smart! These sun safety tips are also good to keep in mind all year long not just for the summer!

Stay Sun Safe!

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Author: Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES
About: Dr. Douglas Stoddard is a sports medicine physician and is the Medical Director of the Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sports Medicine. He is also a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and has his focussed practice designation in Sport Medicine from the Ontario Medical Association. Dr. Stoddard is a consultant to the Canadian Military and has consulted with well over 30,000 unique patients in his career. Dr. Stoddard is constantly searching for new and promising therapies to help SEMI patients, and is responsible for developing the RegenerVate Medical Injection Therapy Program. He is married and the proud father of two boys, is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.
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