I remember a time when I would live outside during the summer and never get burned by the sun. I saw others red as lobsters and heard them complain about the pain but didn’t really know what it was all about until one year I got burned. That first sunburn was not expected.
I was surprised that my friend, the sun, who furnishes light, gives me vitamin D, helps lighten my moods, grows my food and provides solar power for cookies, could hurt me.
We know that we need to protect our skin from too much sun. Fifteen minutes a day will give your body an adequate amount of vitamin D. One of the main causes of aging and skin cancer is too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
One tip to help you avoid that burning feeling is to stay out of the sun during its hottest times. It is certainly not the best idea to exercise or tan outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Since it may not be practical to stay out of the sun during this time, the next best thing is to dress appropriately for the sun.
I don’t really mean to dress in the minimal amount legally allowed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests that people cover up. Dry, dark and tightly woven fabric absorbs more UV light than wet, loosely woven material.
By placing a hand behind one layer of the clothing and looking at it through the light, one can tell how much protection the fabric is offering—the more the hand is seen, the less the protection.
Wear a hat to protect your head, nose, ears and neck—the wider the brim the more protected your skin. Don’t forget to protect the eyes by wearing UV-absorbent shades.
When it comes to sunscreen, I have small issues. I don’t like to put chemicals on my skin. My phobia was reinforced with the recent stories about some of the ingredients like oxybenzone and octocrylene in sunscreen that can create free radicals in the body and may be carcinogenic.
When I purchase sunscreen, I learned to choose one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays and has the least-harmful ingredients.
I also prepare my body to deal with the sun by what I eat. I like to eat omega-3 rich foods: sea vegetables and avocados, for example. Dark green and leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and other cruciferous vegetables are loaded with antioxidants to fight free radicals. Red- and orange-colored fruits and vegetables have lycopene, which studies have shown aid in protecting the skin from UV irritations.
The moral of the story is this: Let’s get out and have fun this summer and not get burned doing it!