Stay Safe from the Summer Sizzle

To borrow and tweak a popular phrase…”Summer is Coming!” This one is no “Game” to trifle with. The sun and heat can be very dangerous to your health and Post Acute Medical wants to make sure you are armed with information to battle these summertime dangers as May wraps up Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Spring has sprung and summer is near. Once the springtime storms clear, the sun will be out in full force and when the sun is shining, you want to get outside. But before heading out to enjoy the sunshine and heat, it's important to take certain precautions to protect yourself from the sizzle of the sun and summer.

To stay safe in the sun and heat this summer and into the fall, here is some advice to help you enjoy all your time outdoors safely.

Sunburns: Caught Red-Handed (so to speak) 

The risks of getting too much sun are as clear as day. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays not only damage skin cells and cause sunburns, but they also are a proven human carcinogen, meaning they can cause cancer. The majority of cancer cases come from exposure to UV rays, the Skin Cancer Foundation says.

UV rays can penetrate the top layer of the skin and damage those cells. To combat this, the skin produces a pigment called melanin, which soaks up UV light and releases it as heat. This shields the cells beneath that layer from UV damage. But be careful, as melanin-producing cells can also be damaged by too much exposure to the sun. The more sun exposure, the more melanin is produced, which in turn causes tanning of the skin.

Common damages from overexposure to the sun are:

  • Sunburn – Painful inflammation of the skin due to the body responding to damaged skin cells from UV rays, and increasing blood flow to the affected area to help it heal.
  • Premature Aging – Over time, UV rays can reduce skin elasticity and cause premature wrinkling.
  • Skin Cancer – Reoccurring and prolonged UV ray exposure over many years is one of the main cause of skin cancer.

Sunscreen Basics

When it comes to sun safety, sunscreen is one of your most important lines of defense. But the labeling on sunscreen bottles has changed in recent years, so it's important to make sure your sunscreen knowledge is up-to-date before slathering your skin with lotion. For example, grabbing the first bottle you find in your cabinet may not provide the best protection, as sunscreens do expire. And the language on the labels does matter, so make sure you know what to look for to ensure you stay safe in the sun.

Although sunscreen is essential for blocking the sun's harmful rays, it's not the only way to boost your protection. Your clothes and sunglasses can also help keep you safe from the sun. And simple steps like avoiding the sun during the middle of the day are beneficial as well.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Cover up sensitive areas
  • Limit total sun exposure time
  • Limit your exposure to the hours between 10 am. & 2 pm.
  • Always wear sunblock

Sun Isn’t Always a Villain

When it comes to the sun, it can be difficult to balance the good and the bad. But there are health benefits associated with the sun's rays and completely avoiding the sun at all costs can be harmful too. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, and it's difficult to get enough of this vitamin through food sources alone. Vitamin D is produced when UV rays hit the skin, causing a chemical reaction.

Of course, the sun isn't the only health hazard that presents itself on hot days when you are outside. Rising temperatures put people at risk of heat-related illnesses, which include heat exhaustion and deadly heatstroke. Staying cool and hydrated is essential for protecting yourself against the dangers of heat.  Drink lots of water and keep your fluids up to fight against dehydration.

At Post Acute Medical, we care about the general health and well-being of people. These tips can help you get through the heat of summer, while you enjoy your vacation, yard work, pool time, play at the lake, camping or whatever you do in the summer months.