Halfway through summer, it can be easy to forget to reapply sunscreen and stay hydrated. But when it’s sunny and hot, it’s important to remember to stay healthy and safe during the summer months. We asked Lauren Blevins, nurse practitioner at Millersville University, if she had any tips about summer safety.
Let’s talk about sunscreen. Is it important for all skin tones?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone, regardless of skin tone, should use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Darker skin tones have more melanin in their skin which offers some protection from the sun’s rays. However, all skin tones are susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun, including sunspots, wrinkles or cancer.
Per FDA regulations, sunscreen has a shelf life of three years. You should always follow the expiration date on the bottle. Sunscreen should be stored in a cool, dark place.
How important is it to protect our eyes from the sun?
Sunglasses protect the eyes against eye disease related to the sun. Sunglasses with polarized lenses help reduce glare and eye strain.
How much water should be consumed daily to maintain hydration?
Most health experts recommend the “8×8 rule,” which is eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Water intake is individualized, depending on temperature, perspiration, activity level, sex, age, chronic health conditions, etc. In general, on a hot summer day, you will need to drink more water because of “fluid loss” through perspiration.
If you’re exercising, choose times that are cooler, pre-hydrate and drink plenty of fluids while exercising. Take breaks, know your limits, wear sunscreen, wear a hat, wear loose-fitted clothing and exercise with a partner.
What are some signs of heat exhaustion?
Headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, rapid heart rate, loss of appetite, nausea and elevated body temperature can all be signs of heat exhaustion.
What about summer bugs? What should we do if we find a tick?
Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady even pressure. After ensuring the tick is completely removed, clean the area with alcohol or warm soap and water. If the tick was on your skin for over 24 hours, contact your medical provider.
Is bug spray worth it?
Yes. DEET is the most effective repellent and is safe for use in 20%-50% concentration for adults. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates insect repellents for their safety and effectiveness.
However, DEET can cause skin rashes, especially when used at higher concentrations. There are also natural bug repellants that can be made with essential oils, which may be better tolerated in individuals with sensitive skin.