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Staying Safe in the Sun

For many folks, vacation means a trip to the ocean. And a trip to the beach means some extra precautions.


Gone are the days when we slathered baby-oil all over our bodies and baked for hours in the sun. While we all know that we should wear sunscreen everyday, let’s face it -- the beach sun can be very different from the sun where you live.


According to www.dermatology.about.com, 90% of skin damage is caused by exposure to sunlight. The key to preventing this damage, which can include painful burning, is to choose the correct sunscreen and apply it properly. The most harmful rays are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. so use that as a guide as well. That doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen other times during the day, just make sure you pay extra attention during that time frame.


Your sunscreen should have at least an SPF of 15, but most of us choose one that is higher, depending on how fair our skin is and our tolerance for the sun. If you plan on swimming or participating in any water sports, choose a waterproof sunscreen.


A mistake most people make in applying their sunscreen is to apply too little. It is recommended you apply about 1.25 ounces per application. While that can be hard to measure while sitting on the beach, keep in mind that most people only apply 25% - 50% of that required amount. So slather it on. You can also use that formula when deciding how much sunscreen to purchase prior to a trip.


Sunscreen has a shelf life of approximately three years, so replace it if necessary. And do get it beforehand so you aren’t paying three times more at the beach, or worse, be tempted to skip applying it at all.


Don’t forget those areas that you may neglect � the tops of your ears, the backs of your knees, tops of your feet, extra for the shoulders, and men, don’t forget those little bald spots that may be peaking out at the top of your head. Now is not the time to pretend you have that full head of hair you had in your teens or you could regret it later.


Apply the sunscreen prior to going out in the sun whenever possible. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin to provide full protection.


Reapply your sunscreen after swimming even if it is waterproof. And wearing a T-shirt, while it can help block the sun, is really only about the equivalent of a 8 to 10 SPF, so that doesn’t afford too much protection. There is special clothing available that has SPF protection. Check with manufacture for the SPF available.


By Kathleen Ganster



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