Owning a swimming pool in your backyard comes with abundant health benefits that you can fully enjoy. Spending more time by the waterside and in the sun comes with some additional concerns, though. Perhaps you believe that you can always make sure everyone is wearing sunscreen when they need it. But precisely when do they require it? Which type of sunscreen is best to use? Does a single application of sunscreen suffice? If not, why not?
With regard to cloudy days, dark skin tones and tans, and allegedly “waterproof” sunscreen brands, we examined three prevalent myths regarding sunscreen in our previous post. We also brought up the point that protecting yourself and your kids from sunburn is not the main concern. A more prevalent worry is that a severe sunburn or numerous bad sunburns over time can raise a person’s risk of ultimately developing skin cancer, which can be fatal. Practicing proper sun safety is crucial for long term health.
Let’s look at some additional misconceptions regarding sunscreen:
Myth 4: Using Sunscreen Will Provide You with Adequate Sun Protection
Your plan for sun protection should have several levels of defense, much like your plan for water safety or drowning prevention does. No matter how excellent the sunscreen you choose is, no matter how frequently and thoroughly you apply it, it will still be insufficient because there is only one layer. In the unlikely event that all other layers of UV protection fail you, Dr. DeHaan from the University of Michigan advises using sunscreen as a sort of last-ditch effort. What does she recommend for the first layer, then? Avoiding being in the sun, at least during the hottest parts of the day.
If you do decide to go outside between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., consider adding some shade, whether it be organic (like trees) or man-made (like a canopy or umbrella). Then, a wide-brimmed hat to protect the head, neck, and eyes, as well as lightweight clothing that covers all extremities, can serve as an additional layer of protection. Sunglasses that completely block UV rays will provide further benefits. Once you’ve covered those essentials, you may (and should) apply sunscreen to any exposed skin and reapply it at least every two hours.
Myth 5: All Sunscreen Is the Same
Even if you use sunscreen as one of several layers of defense, you should be aware that different sunscreens have varying degrees of effectiveness. You should specifically look for sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection and an SPF of between 15 and 50. Since both UVA and UVB radiation can harm the skin, the term “broad spectrum” refers to protection from both of these wavelengths. The non-profit organization Environmental Working Group has lists of sunscreens that are safe for both people and the environment.
Many people believe that the higher the SPF number, or sun protection factor, the better the protection. There isn’t any proof, though, that an SPF of 50 or higher actually makes a beneficial difference. No matter how high the SPF on your sunscreen is, you should frequently reapply it, especially if you’re in the water. Note that spray-on sunscreen may be less effective than what its SPF indicates, because it may be simpler to miss areas and more challenging to apply evenly.
Continue reading with Part 3.
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