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Sun Safety Tips on Vacation
If you read my mom blog, Mom’s Favorite Stuff, you may know that last summer, I had a melanoma scare. In July, I had a mole removed that was not “quite” melanoma. Thankfully it was caught in time, but now I have to be very careful in the sun. After my stitches were removed, I had three separate Caribbean trips scheduled, and knew that I had to avoid the sun. But I didn’t want to hide in my hotel room – so I didn’t. There are lots of ways to stay safe in the sun, even on family summer vacations. Here are some sun safety tips on vacation.
A note: I always recommend that you talk directly to your dermatologist, primary care doctor, and/or pediatrician specifically about your situation.
Avoid the Sun
The most straightforward way to stay safe in the sun is to avoid the sun. According to Dr. Keith LeBlanc Jr, a dermatologist, skin cancer surgeon, and founder of The Skin Surgery Centre (theskinsurgerycentre.com), “The easiest way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid being in the sun during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense”.
If I can’t avoid the sun completely, or I want to be outside, I at least try to stay under an umbrella. Or I “wear a hat with a wide brim to keep sun off of your face, neck and ears”, as Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD recommends.
I always wear sunglasses when it’s even the slightest bit sunny out. The California Optometric Association recommends polarized lenses. According to them, “Sunglasses should block out 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75-90% of visible light. Polarized lenses are a good way to do this because they can specifically block out the most prominent light rays while maintaining clear vision”. Also, don’t forget that your kids need this same protection.
Use Sunscreen Properly
Sunscreen is important, and you’ll need to use the right product and apply it properly.
Debra Jaliman M.D. and author of “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From A Top New York Dermatologist” (St. Martin’s Press) recommends that you “wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen that blocks UVA/UVB rays. Choose one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide”. She also suggests that you “protect your lips with an SPF 30 lip balm”.
Dr. Neal Schultz, board certified MD, NYC dermatologist (30+ years of experience), founder of DermTv.com and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz offers some important tips for using sunscreen properly. For instance, sunscreen needs to be applied first on the skin (before makeup, moisturizers, or other skin products). According to him, “You can be sure that when that sunscreen was tested by the FDA it was applied to absolutely bare skin – so if you want the rated sunscreen protection, it needs to be applied first”. You also need to wear enough sunscreen – most people in the sun during the day will use at least 4 oz. / day (assuming first application and 3 reapplications, each being about 1 oz.), according to Dr. Schultz. He also notes, “Just because you can’t see a part of your skin, doesn’t mean the sun can’t! Remember to apply sunscreen to the tops of our ears, the back of our neck, the back of your upper thighs and even the tops of your feet”.
In my experience, we’ve also needed to use sunscreen on scalps, unless we all are wearing hats with UV protection. I also always reapply after going in the water, toweling off, or pulling off a snorkeling mask (which tends to take sunscreen with it).
Don’t forget about the heat
The sun isn’t your only concern. In the heat, always be fully hydrated, and take regular indoor breaks. Tara Cannon from Pint Size Pilot recommends that you make sure that kids have “proper air ventilation when in their stroller. A child can be sheltered from the sun, but they still needs to be kept cool ( with stroller mesh air vents open etc.)”.
Consider UV Clothing
UV clothing has become one of my favorite things when going out in the sun. I love the rash guards from Lands’ End – especially the long-sleeved ones. I also have a selection of clothes from Coolibar – including swim capris which protect my legs when I’m at the beach.
How do you protect yourself in the sun?