July 13, 2011
We want you to have fun while vacationing on the OBX, but protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) is extremely important. Forgetting your sunscreen is not an option at this time of the year. Remember, skin is the largest and most exposed organ on the body. It protects all other organs while showing how healthy you are on the inside. So it should be your first priority when having fun outside. Without taking the right precautions the sun can cause premature aging of the skin, permanent skin cancer, and extreme damage to the eyes.
No one wants to be wrinkly nor diagnosed with skin cancer, especially when it is very preventable! First off, you must apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every two hours. Reapply after sweating, or going for a swim. It is very important to learn your own skin for the sun affects individuals differently. So picking out a sunscreen that works best for you is the key to preventing getting burned. Dermatologists will usually suggest a higher SPF, but again you need to learn what works best for you, and your children. Be aware that some bottles of sunscreen could be exaggerated, and will only help to stop sunburn NOT prevent skin cancer.
Thankfully, starting in 2012, the FDA is requiring sunscreen companies to provide sun lovers with more accurate information. It will have to pass a broad spectrum test which shows whether the sunscreen can actually protect you from UVA and UVB rays, and also an SPF test to discover how much the sunscreen will protect you from being burned. By passing these two tests, a sunscreen will have a label that states that it prevents skin cancer AND sunburn. For the time being, until this new FDA law goes into play, research the bottle of sunscreen you have been using, and/or find one that you completely trust. For more information on the sunscreen requirement that starts in 2012, go to the American Academy of Dermatology’s website. Not only should you be applying sunscreen with a high SPF, but also wearing a big sun hat, sunglasses, seeking shade between 10 am and 4 pm (when rays are strongest), and covering yourself with clothing occasionally.
Note that the sun can still burn you through clothing, so seeking shade is your best option. Also, keep in mind that the sun can reflect off of the water. So even if you are in a shady spot you might still need to put on that sun hat and/or shirt! Skin cancer is on the rise and has been for the past couple of decades. The AAD reports that there will be 3.5 million new skin cancer cases, this year alone. That is one in five Americans who will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Be sure to take precautions when playing outside! Protecting your skin should not be put off until later because by that time it will be too late to prevent the sun from burning or damaging your skin!