Tips for Protecting your Skin and Staying Hydrated
We are well into spring and summer is fast approaching. With it will come hotter temperatures and stronger sun rays. The Canadian Dermatology Association’s National Sun Awareness Week is June 5 – 11. It is designed to highlight the dangers of over-exposure to the sun and to promote safe behaviours. Take this time to learn about sun safety tips and staying hydrated to enjoy the beautiful sun-shining days!
Protect your skin and reduce your risk
Each year there are over 80,000 new cases of skin cancer in Canada, making it the most diagnosed type of cancer. There are also over 1,500 deaths from skin cancer each year, and rates are increasing.
A tan is your skin’s physiological response to the stress caused by ultraviolet rays (UV). Any type and amount of exposure to UV, including from tanning beds, can be harmful and increase your risk of skin cancer.
Protecting yourself from the sun is easy – it reduces the risk of developing skin cancer and should be a part of an everyday healthy lifestyle. Follow the six tips below:
1. Avoid sun burning, intentional tanning or using tanning beds.
2. Use sunscreen.
Sunscreens are barriers that are applied to the skin. They come in a wide variety of forms including creams, lotions, sprays and gels. Some are designed for sensitive skin and others are water resistant.
Pay attention to the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) and whether the sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection. Look for a product with a minimum SPF of 30 to protect against the sun’s UVB or burning rays. You also want a sunscreen that protects against UVA rays, which are responsible for premature aging and skin cancer. A sunscreen labelled broad spectrum will help protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
When applying your sunscreen, don’t forget your ears, neck, tops of your feet and any bald spots! Sunscreen begins to work as soon as you apply it, so it’s never too late to put it on. However, sunscreen is better absorbed if you put it on ahead of time, so make it part of your morning routine. Learn more about sunscreens.
3. Wear sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up. Make sure you choose close-fitting sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection in a wraparound style. Learn about sun-safe clothing.
4. Seek shade.
If your shadow is shorter than you, it’s time to find some shade. Seek shade especially between 11 am and 3 pm.
5. Check your skin.
Read about the ABCDE rule and the seven-point checklist used by health-care professionals to assess moles.
6. Check the UV index and plan accordingly.
On days when the UV reaches 3 (moderate) or higher, you need to be diligent in protecting your skin, face and eyes. In Canada between April and September, the UV index can be 3 or more from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., even when it’s cloudy. Clouds only block 20% of the sun’s UV1 so you still need to use sun protection on cloudy days.
Staying hydrated – How much water should you be drinking?
To keep your body hydrated, aim for a daily fluid intake of about two to three litres (eight to 12 cups) per day, based on your body size and activity level. When you are more active, and the weather is hotter, you will need to increase your intake. Learn about sports hydration here.
Water is one of the best fluid choices, but you can also drink other beverages such as milk, juice, broth/soups, coffee and tea.
Signs of dehydration
- Dry lips and mouth
- Flushed skin
- Headache, dizziness, fainting
- Low blood pressure, increase in heart rate
- Dark, strong-smelling urine
If you feel any of these symptoms of dehydration, do the following:
- Stop your activity and rest
- Get out of direct sunlight and find a cooler spot if possible
- Prop up your feet and take off unnecessary clothing
- Drink a rehydration drink: Combine one cup of juice (preferably apple), two cups of water and a pinch of salt; a sports drink will also work
Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. (2014). Cancer Statistics 2014. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society.
Svobodova A. & Vostalova J. (2010). Solar radiation induced skin damage: review of protective and preventive options. Int J Radiat Biol, 86(12), 999-1030.