Living with Chronic Pain

The 6 S’s of Sun Safety


The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin damage in as little as 15 minutes. Over time, the small blood vessels under the skin widen from sun exposure, which makes it more prone to tear and bruise. Sun exposure causes skin issues, such as rough texture, white spots, freckles, and discoloration (mottled pigmentation). The risk of skin cancer and skin damage can be greatly reduced by following these six sun safety tips.

  1. Seek shade. Find shade under a tree or umbrella to provide relief from the sun, but remember, this does not provide complete protection from the sun's UV rays.
  2. Smear on sunscreen. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Ensure the expiration date has not passed and reapply as needed (after swimming, sweating, toweling off or being in the sun for more than two hours). Makeup and lip balms containing sun-protective ingredients should also be used to provide maximum protection.
  3. Slap on a hat. A wide-brimmed hat that provides shade over the face, ears, and back of the neck helps protect the skin from dangerous UV rays. Darker hats constructed from tightly woven fabrics provide even stronger UV protection.
  4. Slide on sunglasses. Sunglasses should block UVA and UVB rays for the best protection. Wrap-around sunglasses prevent UV rays from creeping in from the sides to the tender skin around the eyes. Sunglasses also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
  5. Slip into protective clothing. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts made of tightly woven fabrics provide skin protection from UV rays. Dry clothing provides more protection from sun rays than wet clothing.
  6. Stay mindful of times. The sun’s harmful rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; therefore, protecting the skin as much as possible during those times is important.
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