How to protect your skin during long days in the sun

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - These first days of summer are among the longest days of sunlight, meaning we have to pay much more attention to the harm that can happen to our bodies from soaking up the rays.

Tanning can cause premature aging, leathery-skin feel, sunburn and in worst-case scenarios, skin cancer.

“Of course, one of the biggest concerns is skin cancer,” Family Physician Dr. Kelvin Wynn of UnityPoint Health said. “Which is probably the most common cancer that’s encountered... and some types of precancerous lesions. Those are some things you want to be watching for.”

Your best defense against the sun is a good sunscreen, Dr. Wynn said anything above SPF 30 is good, and it should cover the spectrum of UV rays. Whatever you buy, he advises to read the bottle in full. Some sunscreens have instructions about reapplying. and may be sweated off before they can fully protect someone. Apply it anywhere there’s exposed skin.

“That includes... the nose, the ears, behind the ears, the lips. You don’t want to obviously don’t put it in your mouth,” Dr. Wynn said. “but you want to apply it to all those areas and make sure you’re applying it correctly and repeatedly.”

Unlike typical summer fashion, he recommends covering up to keep the skin protected. Hats, sunglasses, long sleeves and more may make someone sweaty, but can prevent skin damage.

“A lot of people think you should take off your shirt, but you should keep your shirt on because it helps keep you cool,” Resident Marvin Wolfe said. “Even if you’re sweating, this little breeze I’m standing in out by this tree helps me cool off.”

Finding a shady spot wherever you can makes things easier. Essentially, whatever puts distance between the sun and you can help prevent extreme sunburn, skin damage and cancer. In some cases, preventing burns resulting in a hospital visit.

“You can have degrees of sunburn,” Dr. Wynn said. “You can get a burn to the point where it’s actually blistering... People use some Aloe Vera and some cool compresses, but if it’s blistering and extensive, just like other burns you want to seek medical attention.”

After sun exposure, experts recommend helping your skin with moisturizers and cool packs to help cool the body back down. Keeping the skin hydrated is different from hydrating the body. Hydrating the ins and outs of your body can prevent heat related illness as well as sun damage.

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