How to Keep Your Skin Safe in the Sun

July 30, 2023
Picture of a young girl putting sunscreen on her mother's nose at the beach.

Did you know that the sun produces three types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation? While UVC rays are absorbed by the atmosphere before reaching us, UVA and UVB rays can cause a number of health issues, including sunburns, premature aging, cataracts, and skin cancer.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named July as UV Safety Awareness Month. So, to celebrate, we’ve compiled the following four tips on how to stay safe in the sun.

1. Check the UV Index

In 1994, the National Weather Service (NWS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a UV index to help people avoid overexposure to solar UV radiation. The index predicts how strong the sun’s UV rays will be on a certain day, using a scale that ranges from 1 (low) to 11+ (extreme). So, before venturing outside, be sure to check the forecast and adjust your plans accordingly.

2. Stay in the Shade

Whenever possible, try to find a shady spot. For example, if you’re planning to spend time in a park, check to see whether it contains any picnic pavilions. Or, if you’re dining al fresco, ask to be seated under a patio cover. If you’re concerned about not being able to find shade, you may want to invest in a portable sun umbrella.

3. Use Sunscreen

Be sure to select a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and opt for one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Be generous when applying your sunscreen—you should use at least one ounce (approximately the size of a golf ball) and cover any areas that will be exposed to the sun, including your scalp, your eyelids, your ears, the back of your neck, and the tops of your feet. And don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours (more often if you’re using spray sunscreen, sweating, or swimming).

4. Wear Sunglasses

Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that needs protection from the sun. Because UV rays can cause a number of eye problems, such as cataracts, it’s important that you wear sunglasses. You’ll want to invest in a pair that provides 100% UVA/UVB protection, and be sure to check the label, since darker lenses don’t always mean greater defense.

Urgent Care Treatment for Sunburns & Sun Poisoning

At PhysicianOne Urgent Care, we skillfully treat a wide array of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries, including sunburns and sun poisoning. We have locations across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York—all of which are open 365 days per year with extended hours—and we never require appointments (although patients still have the option to book a visit online, if desired). We also offer a 24/7 integrated telehealth service, which is perfect for individuals who want to speak to a local provider about their sunburn or sun poisoning symptoms but don’t feel up to leaving the house. We strive to offer care when and where our patients want it, so choose the treatment option that’s best for you.

Mother and daughter happy at the beach
Throughout the visit I felt like the staff really cared. The doctor took his time talking with me about my symptoms, and I felt like he listened to all my concerns and took that into consideration when recommending the right treatment. Thank you!
Hamden, CT
  • 5.0
  • 4.6