An excessive amount of sunlight to the skin can cause immediate damage such as redness or sunburn. However, there are also hidden effects that can occur years later such as skin cancer or signs of aging.
Methods that can be used to prevent skin damage from the sun
There are different suggestions to help prevent skin damage such as:
Avoid direct sunlight
Avoiding direct sunlight during peak daylight hours. Seek shade for protection, however, be wary that sunlight can still be reached through leaves and can be reflected towards the shaded area.
Wear clothing that protects your skin from sun overexposure
This can include sunglasses, wide hats, and shirts and pants that completely cover your arms and legs. Clothing material such as cotton or linen that is lightweight will provide shielding from the sun as well. Avoid wet, white, or loosely woven clothing as these factors can reflect poor or very little protection.
Choosing sunscreen wisely
We recommend using sunscreen that is labelled as “broad spectrum” and with an SPF of 30 or greater. These factors allow for greater protection for exposed skin from the sun. It is also important to note that sunscreen should be used even during cloudy weather, as the sun can still get through clouds or reflect off water, increasing exposure.
Avoid tanning for long periods of time
Tanning can be dangerous if done for too long and can cause skin damage. You should also avoid tanning beds and sun lamps because of their use of UVA radiation, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Take special care when exposing children and infants to the sun
Infants less than 6 months of age have a greater chance of sunburn. Due to this, they should be fully covered with clothing and should avoid the sun. If using sunscreen for infants less than 6 months, a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or more sunscreen can be used on the back of the hands and the face, or other similar small exposed areas. Children who are 6 months or older should follow the same sunscreen guidelines as adults.
How do you correctly apply sunscreen?
Although sunscreen can help the skin from damage from the sun’s rays, it does not fully prevent skin damage. However, it is important to note different techniques to get the most value from sunscreen for adults and children over 6 months, such as:
Applying all sunscreen over the exposed areas of the body 30 minutes before going outside and every 15-30 minutes later to get full protection. This includes before going into the water and reapplying sunscreen after swimming, towelling off or sweating.
Spray sunscreen generously, 10-15 cm from the skin. Spread the sunscreen evenly around by rubbing it in by using your hands. This should be done in a well-ventilated area and away from wind, so the spray is not breathed in.
The amount of sunscreen an average-sized adult should use at minimum, is 1 teaspoonful (5 mL) on the face, head and neck, 1 teaspoonful (5 mL) to cover a full arm, 2 teaspoonfuls (10 mL) to cover the back and front of the body, and 2 teaspoonfuls (10 mL) to cover a full leg.