Guarding against sun damage in the hot summer sun


We’re coming up on the hottest month of the year for many parts of the country, especially Texas. As we roll right into August, you can be there are sunny days ahead. While getting to soak in the sun can be fun and even give you a needed mood boost, it’s also important to exercise care when you’re out in the sun.

Everyone loves to get out and enjoy the warmth and brightness of the summer months, but heading out without protection can cost you in the short- and long-term. There’s nothing like a sunburn to ruin a good summer break. Long-term damage can have even costlier consequences. Definitely enjoy the great weather this summer, but take a look at these tips to keep yourself protected while you do so.

Is sun exposure dangerous?

Anyone who’s spent a little too much time in the sun with a little too little sunscreen knows the answer to this. One immediate danger of sun exposure is sunburn. Aside from the stinging red feeling, itchiness and peeling skin, sunburn actually causes damage to the cells and blood vessels. Repeated sun damage can lead to discoloration, wrinkles, and a dry and leathery look and feel. Over time, repeated sun exposure and damage leads the skin to weaken, making it bruise more easily. Perhaps the biggest danger lies in the possibility of skin cancer, which has become the most common form of cancer. Avoiding sun damage can help prevent many skin cancers.

What about the benefits of being in the sun?

While you can get vitamin D from the sun, there are plenty of foods that are now fortified with vitamin D, making sun exposure less important to get this essential nutrient. While some sun exposure may help boost your mood, it is important to guard against the damaging effects the sun can have if you are going to spend an extended amount of time outdoors. Wearing sunscreen and protective clothing are the two top ways to minimize sun exposure when outdoors. It can also be a good idea to avoid direct sunlight around midday (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) when the UV rays are at their strongest. Remember to protect your eyes, too; wear sunglasses that filter UV light.

How does SPF sunscreen work?

SPF stands for sun protection factor and the SPF number on a bottle of sunscreen lets you know how protected you will be from UVB, or the burning, damaging rays of the sun. The higher the SPF number, the more protection you have against UVB. Most experts recommend using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater. Those who have previously been diagnosed with skin cancer or precancerous cells should consider using an even higher SPF, with a minimum of 45.

It’s also important to note that damage doesn’t only occur when you visibly have sunburn. Sun damage can occur from constant sun exposure, even without a sunburn. Sunburn can be an immediate reaction to too much sun exposure, but damage from the sun can accumulate over a lifetime. Always wear SPF protection of some kind when you are outdoors and in the sun.

In order to get the most protection from your sunscreen, consider the following guidelines:

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outdoors, especially if you will be exposed to the sun for a half-hour or longer
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, even for sunscreens that are labeled “all day” or “sweatproof.” If you swim, get wet, or sweat, be sure to reapply sunscreen even more frequently.
  • Be sure to cover all areas of exposed skin and don’t miss your lips, ears, face, top of your feet, back of your hands, and where your hair parts.
  • Apply sunscreen generously and be sure to rub it in thoroughly.
  • Women should be sure to apply sunscreen, even if they are wearing makeup. Sunscreen should be applied under makeup and 30 minutes before you will be outside. Applying sunscreen to dry skin is the most effective as moisture from sweating can make it harder to apply thoroughly and evenly.

Decent helps you avoid the burn

Sunburn isn’t the only thing to look out for this summer. Sometimes surprise medical bills can jump out and sting you, too. Decent health plans guard against that by laying out everything in black and white. We value transparency, so we make sure there are no hidden fees or surprises with our health plans.

We’re also here to help you with your sunburn if that happens. All of our plans include free primary care. So the next time you spend a little too much time at the beach with not quite enough sunscreen, make a same- or next-day appointment with your primary care doctor you you won’t have to pay a thing. Yep -- for $0, you can get the soothing relief you need (and probably a stern warning from your doctor) so you can get back to summer fun.

Check it out! Get your free quote today.

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