From Fraser Health. BC’s Lower Mainland may not be the sunniest place on earth, but the sun’s rays can still cause harm, especially during the summer months when the days are longer and people spend more time outdoors.
“Most people think that as long as they aren’t getting a sun burn, they aren’t damaging their skin,” says Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Chief Medical Health Officer with Fraser Health. “But even if your skin is tanning and not burning, daily exposure to sunlight adds up and over time can cause skin damage and even skin cancer. A tan is visible proof that your skin has been damaged from ultraviolet radiation.”
Sunburn is caused by UV radiation not temperature. Even on a cool summer day, the UV level can be intense. You can also get a sun burn on cloudy days, as UV radiation can penetrate some clouds, and may even be more intense due to reflection from the bottom of the clouds.
Practice sun safety
When possible, schedule outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon/early evening.
Stay in the shade and out of the hot sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Look for places with lots of shade, such as a park with big trees. Take an umbrella or tent to the beach.
Cover up. If you are out in the sun during mid-day hours, wear long sleeves, loose-fitting long pants and a hat with a wide brim (baseball caps do not provide enough protection).
Wear sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection. They will provide protection against eye damage.
Use a sunscreen lotion or cream that is Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or more; if you work outdoors or are planning to be outside most of the day, use one with SPF 30 or more.
Put sunscreen on your skin 20 minutes before you go out and reapply 20 minutes after being out in the sun to ensure even application and better protection.
Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
DO NOT apply sunscreen to babies under 6 months old; babies should be kept out of the direct sun as much as possible.
NEVER use baby oil to protect children from the sun. It will NOT protect them.
Sunscreen can’t block all the sun’s rays. Use it along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them.
Don’t forget your lips, ears and nose and the tops of your feet. These parts of your body burn easily.
Re-apply sunscreen after you go swimming or if you are sweating.
Check your skin regularly
You can never be completely protected from the sun. Over time, exposure to UV rays may cause skin cancer. Get to know your own skin and if you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor:
Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule
The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain