Summer is a great time to head outside to get some fresh air and physical activity. Before enjoying the sunshine, it’s important to protect your skin, especially during the hottest parts of the day when the sun’s rays can be most damaging. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, which can lead to skin cancer—the most common cancer in the U.S. (1) Read on for ways to stay sun safe by protecting your skin this summer.
Benefits and Dangers of Sun Exposure
There are many health benefits to spending time outdoors and getting limited sun exposure, including promoting positive mental health, stress reduction, and the production of vitamin D in the skin. However, too much UV exposure can increase the risk of sunburn, eye damage, and damage to skin cells which over time can lead to skin cancer. Consuming fortified food products like salmon and tuna, cereal, orange juice, dairy, and plant-based milk can also be a natural and safe way to get vitamin D without the risks of prolonged sun exposure. See how much daily Vitamin D is recommended for children and adults here.
Ways to Protect Skin
Plan outside time. Protecting skin is important all year, not just during summer, because harmful UV rays are also present on cloudy and cool days. UV rays tend to be strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try to limit outside time or seek shade during these hours. Water, snow, and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase the chance of sunburn, so plan accordingly.
Apply sunscreen. Regardless of your age or skin color experts recommend choosing a water-resistant, “broad spectrum” (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for the best UV protection. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours. Most adults need about one ounce to fully cover their body.
Choose protective clothing. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirt, and pants can all help to protect exposed skin and eyes when heading outdoors. Darker colors may absorb more UV rays.
Examine skin often. To detect issues early when they are most treatable, regularly examine your skin head-to-toe for changes such as a spot that is different from others, itches, or bleeds. If you do notice something, contact your primary care provider to discuss care options, including whether to see a dermatologist.
Accessing Same-Day Care
Members have access to convenient same-day care for a variety of everyday health needs, including sunburns and common skin conditions, at a nearby Sutter Walk-In Care. Adults and children 18 months and older are welcome daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; holiday and summer hours may vary. While appointments are not needed, members are encouraged to schedule a visit through My Health Online or by calling (800) 972-5547.
Access to virtual care is also available from a phone, tablet, or computer. Members can schedule a video visit with a Sutter provider or a Walk-In Care clinician daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through My Health Online.