Sunburn isn’t Summer Fun

The sun" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Lima Andruška 

Summer fun is all about being outdoors and in the warm sun. Fishing, hiking, camping, golfing or just mowing the grass are all things that take place in the great outdoors and in the sun. A part of everyone’s summertime outdoor activities is being responsible for protecting ourselves from harmful solar rays.

You probably have your sunscreen routines and beliefs about what you are doing to keep yourself safe. Are you sure your aren’t buying into one of the many sunscreen and sunburn myths out there? Read on, I bet you can learn something new from this list of sun tips.

Sunburn Facts:

  • Sunscreen is important everyday. Eighty percent of UV rays penetrate cloud cover, wear sunscreen on cloudy days to prevent surprise sunburns.
  • Redness from a burn peaks 12-24 hours after sun exposure, so when you first notice redness you are more burned than you think. It’s too late but slathering on some sunscreen late is better than continuing to burn.
  • Some people can burn within 15 minutes of sun exposure, especially when the UV Index is high.
  • The UV Index is a measure of how “intense” the sun is. The higher the number the more intense the radiation. Zero is night or early morning, 10 or more is very high.
  • The UV Index is higher in the summer months, higher in the middle of the day, and it is higher when you are close to the equator.
  • Aloe wont heal sunburned skin but can treat the symptoms.
  • If you form blisters keep the area clean, infection is a risk.
  • One bad burn raises your risk of skin cancer and not just on exposed areas. Skin cancer can form on parts of your body that seldom sees the sun.
  • There are two kinds of UV radiation from the sun. UVB is what causes sunburn. UVA doesn’t burn but it accelerates aging of the skin – UVB for burning, UVA for aging.
  • Window glass only prevents UVB (burning) rays not UVA (aging) rays.
  • 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer.

Sunscreen Facts:

  • Sunscreens are rated by their ability to screen out UVB rays. Called Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF) a product with an SPF 15 eliminates 93 percent of the burning rays, SPF 100 screens 99 percent. Many dermatologists recommend at least SPF 30.
  • The SPF only refers to UVB protection, soon we may be able to see the UVA protection value on sunscreen labels as well.
  • Fair skinned, light haired people are most susceptible, but everyone needs sunscreen, regardless of age and race. The absolute darkest skin tones are the equivalent of SPF 13.4, they will still be susceptible to accelerated aging and cell damage.
  • There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, the FDA now prevents that word from being used because it is misleading. Now “water-resistant” is what will appear on the label with a time measure like “for 40-80 minutes”. Reapply at least every 2 hours if you have been swimming or sweating heavily.
  • Most people don’t put sunscreen on their lips because it tastes nasty. Lips are exposed to the elements too. If you can’t stand the taste, find a lip balm with sun protection.
  • Spray on sunscreen is handy but the FDA does not apply its regulations on testing and standardization to the spray products. If you chose a spray-on sunscreen make sure not to under apply it.


  • At a minimum, wear a hat to protect your head. If you can stand long pants and long sleeves, wear them.
  • Most fabrics will provide some protection, but UV rays can penetrate many light clothes. Special clothes with enhanced UV protection are available and come with a UPF rating similar to a SPF rating. A UPF of 15 is good, above 50 is excellent.


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