(3 minute read)
For many, the summer months means getting outside and enjoying the warm weather. But with those toasty temperatures comes the threat of skin damage from the sun. Protecting our skin is important for folks of any age, but seniors especially need to be wary of increased UV rays. Why? The answer is simply time, as 40%-50% of Americans who live to age 65 will develop skin cancer. Additionally, just five bad sunburns in a person’s life can increase the risk for melanoma by a shocking 80%. As we grow older, it’s vital to keep our skin safe, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun throughout your life. Here are four great tips for seniors to take care of their skin during the warm summer months
SPF: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Anytime you find yourself outside, your skin is still soaking up UV rays. It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to a local park or simply running errands from store to store. Any exposure to the sun means the potential for damage to your skin. Even on the cloudiest of days, those rays can still reach your skin and cause a sunburn. If you’re leaving home during daylight hours, always be sure to apply a liberal coating of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. You should also bring some extra lotion along so that you can reapply every couple hours.
Make Some Shade for Yourself
No one wants to wear long-sleeved shirts or pants when it’s hot outside. However, keeping your skin out of direct and constant exposure to sunlight is a great way to prevent damage. A good alternative is to shade yourself with the use of hats and sunglasses, as recommended by the CDC. You might even consider bringing an umbrella if you’re planning on being outside for an extended period of time, such as during a picnic or at the beach.
Avoid Peak Sun Hours
The morning and afternoon during summer months are often jam packed with visits to the grandkids, as well as outdoor activities. However, these can be the most dangerous times for seniors in the sun. UV rays are often at their peak from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. While it may not be possible to completely avoid exposure during these busy times, limiting your time in the sun or even taking breaks during these times is advised. If you do have to be outside during peak hours, make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and try to wear protective clothing whenever and wherever possible.
Water, Water Everywhere
In 2017, NFL superstar Tom Brady released a book called The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. In the book, he described an easy method for avoiding sunburn: drinking lots of water. Unfortunately, that claim has proven to be quite false. Scientists far and wide have debunked this theory, explaining that drinking water does nothing to prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin. However, drinking water does produce more hyaluronic acid, which can keep your skin looking and feeling younger. It’s even found in many anti-aging creams and lotions, and drinking water is a much cheaper and available option. Additionally, being in the sun can greatly dehydrate you, so keeping up on your H20 intake is never a bad idea. Just don’t expect it to keep you from getting burnt.
Sun damage and skin cancer is a serious issue. It may be easy to dismiss a simple sunburn or new mole as just a part of aging, but without proper care it can develop into a worst-case scenario. If you have been exposed to the sun and are worried about any new spots, don’t hesitate to visit a dermatologist right away. In the meantime, though, be sure to follow these tips when getting outdoors this summer, or anytime the sun is shining.
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