Are you dreaming of spring break? You are not alone! It’s a magical time of year where parents get to leave the cubicle and pile of work to-do’s behind and students get to abandon the books and homework in exchange for some quality time with family and friends. And what better way to spend this time together than soaking up the sun and taking advantage of the warmer sunnier days approaching?
Before heading out to your desired location—beach, campsite, mountaintop, backyard—there is one thing parents and spring breakers need to keep in mind: protecting your skin from the sun is paramount to your fun and your skin health! Without proper sun protection, your week-long getaway can turn into a week of pain and skin damage that can last longer than you might think.
SLATHER IT ON – Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher with a valid expiration date, before you go outside—even on cloudy or chilly days. Put a thick layer on all exposed skin, even hard-to-reach places like your back. Since sunscreen wears off, reapply when out in the sun for hours and after swimming, toweling off or sweating. Don’t forget the face and lips. Keep in mind that sunscreen works best when combined with the other sun protection options listed below.
SEEK SHADE - You can reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella or other shelter. Your best bet to protect your skin is to combine several protections at once—while seeking shade, also use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
COVER UP - Long-sleeved shirts, long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors. A typical tee shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so using sunscreen and other protective measures is recommended. UV protective clothing is also available. It’s certified under international standards and comes with information on its protection factor.
TOP IT OFF – Wearing a hat with a wide brim all the way around can offer protection for your face, ears, and the back of your neck. Tightly woven fabrics, like canvas, work better than straw hats with holes that can let sunlight through. Darker colors may offer more UV protection. If you’re sporting a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), seeking shade, and wearing clothing that covers those areas.
PROTECT THE PEEPERS - Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunglasses sold in the US meet this standard. The wrap-around style works best by blocking UV rays from slipping in through the sides.
NO BASE - If you are considering getting a base tan before spring break, don’t. Indoor tanning is a known contributor to skin cancer, including melanoma (it’s most deadly form) and causes other skin damage.
MEDICATIONS MATTER – Be aware of the medications you are taking, since some can make you sensitive to sunlight. Talk with your doctor before heading out and be sure to use as many sun protections as possible.
According to the American Cancer society, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the US. If found early, most skin cancers are almost always curable. If you notice a change in your skin (i.e. changes in mole size or color) you should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or your primary care physician.
Enjoy your spring break and follow our sun protection tips so the only thing you bring back from your vacation are souvenirs and great memories—not skin damage!