Anxious to bask in the sun? Be careful out there
Warm summer weather means time to enjoy the outdoors. Before heading outside for some fun in the sun, there are some things to remember to keep you and your family safe.
Over exposure to the sun’s rays have been linked to certain skin cancers. More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 76,600 cases of skin cancer in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society.
Jenny Hinegardner, a nurse practitioner with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill., says it’s important to protect your skin even on overcast days.
“Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, Hinegardner says. Even on cloudy days, everyone should be wearing an SPF of 30 or higher and should reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends applying a high SPF broad spectrum sunscreen before going outside and advises people to wear clothing that covers exposed skin and a hat that shields your face, head, neck and ears.
If possible, avoid outdoor activities during the peak hours of sunlight in the midday. If you or someone in your family does get sunburned, the CDC recommends these steps to help alleviate any discomfort or further injury.
- Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain, headache and fever.
- Drink plenty of water to help replace fluid losses.
- Comfort burns with cool baths or the gentle application of cool, wet cloths.
- Avoid further exposure until the burn has resolved.
- Use of a topical moisturizing cream, aloe, or 1% hydrocortisone cream may provide additional relief.
If blistering occurs:
- Lightly bandage or cover the area with gauze to prevent infection.
- Do not break blisters. (This slows healing and increases risk of infection.)
- When the blisters break and the skin peels, dried skin fragments may be removed and an antiseptic ointment or hydrocortisone cream may be applied.
Seek medical attention if any of the following occur:
- Severe sunburns covering more than 15% of the body
- High fever (>101 °F)
- Extreme pain that persists for longer than 48 hours
Taking these simple steps to protect your family’s skin is sure to bring years of great summer time memories. For more information on sun safety, visit www.cdc.gov.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.