Summer is the season of freedom, adventure, and excitement. From outdoor activities to family gatherings, there are plenty of reasons to get out and enjoy the sun. However, the summer sun can also pose a serious risk to our health if precautions aren’t taken. When avoiding these harmful rays, sunscreen is truly the unsung hero of summer.
Sunscreen is an effective tool that protects the skin from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most sunscreens work by absorbing these rays before they can penetrate the skin and cause damage. Additionally, some types of sunscreen contain physical blockers such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that sit on top of the skin and reflect UV-rays rather than absorb them.
Unfortunately, without proper protection, these harmful UV rays can lead to skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. Taking a look at the UV index when you’re going out can let you know how harmful the sun is at a given time, but sunscreen is always recommended.
Besides skin cancer protection, sunscreen also supports skin appearance. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays can lead to wrinkles, brown spots, and other age-related skin damage. Sunscreen works by blocking these rays and lessening skin damage.
Furthermore, sunscreen can also help manage certain medical conditions that may impact seniors more prominently. For example, individuals with lupus, rosacea, or other skin conditions that induce photosensitivity are at a far greater risk from sun exposure when they don’t use sunscreen.
Importantly, using sunscreen can help individuals avoid heat stress and heat stroke. As we age, the body’s ability to regulate temperature becomes less efficient, and the summer heat can lead to exhaustion, dehydration, and heat stroke. Wearing sunscreen can keep us cool by reflecting harmful UV rays and allowing for a more enjoyable and safe outdoor experience.
Remember to apply sunscreen generously and to reapply regularly, especially when swimming. It doesn’t take much to save your skin from the sun, but it takes consistency. With sunscreen, you can make the most of these beautiful summer days without worrying about painful burns, skin cancer, or dangerous heat exhaustion. If you’re curious to learn more about sunscreen or the effects of sun exposure, reach out to your primary physician, a trusted expert, or a health literacy mediator.
For more on health literacy and health literacy mediators, see our previous blog found here.