Ready to hit the beach with your family? Read this first. Protect everyone from a nasty sunburn with these simple but oh-so-effective precautions. And no, it’s not as simple as grabbing a bottle of sunblock. How you apply it, where, and how much are all crucial, and many people don’t put enough or neglect important areas of the face. Improve your sunscreen smarts with this article.
Sunburn can happen sooner than you think!
Prolonged sun exposure causes sunburn—literally a burn on your skin caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVA and UVB are different wavelengths in the light spectrum. Skin injury can start within 30 minutes of sun exposure. Repeated sunburns cause premature aging of the skin and double the risk for developing skin cancer.
Avoid the ‘heat wave’
Avoid: Going out between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are very harsh. If you can’t get your kids—and yourself—out of the pool, slather on the sunscreen that covers both UVA and UVB rays. And don’t just use sunblock! Wear sunglasses. (Get your doctor’s recommendation for kiddie eyeshades.) UVA also penetrates your eyes, which can cause degenerative changes in the retina. Swimming caps can protect your hair and scalp as there are no available sunscreens for these areas.
The right way to apply sunscreen
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before swimming. Now, how much should you use? Apply ½ teaspoon of sunscreen each on the face, neck, and arms; 1 teaspoon each on other areas, like the front/back torso and legs. DO apply sunscreen on the outer part of your ears.
Even waterproof sunscreen needs to be reapplied, since it can wash off. Reapply sunscreen everytime you come out of the water.
How to buy the best sunscreen
Sunscreen for adults and children should indicate SPF/PFA on the label. SPF indicates the protection factor for UVB (morning protection) while the PFA indicates protection factor for UVA (mid day sun protection).
Get a higher SPF. Sunscreens with UV protection factor of between SPF 40-50 decreases the transmission of UV radiation by about 3 percent. However, reapplication is more important than a higher SPF.
Even with SPF 70 you should still reapply at least every 30 minutes.
Wear rash guards, a type of athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. Now also available for kids, it helps to prevent irritation caused by rapid impact with surface water and waves. Some rash guards offer ultraviolet protection. You can buy rash guards at Speedo outlets and other sports stores.
Sunburn isn’t the only swimming hazard you need to watch out for. You may also want to read our article on 12 rules on pool safety.
Photo from millionlooks.com