Summer is calling. The shore, the swimming pool, and the shining sun – it all conjures up memories of good times and even greater vacations. But we’re also well aware that “too much of a good thing” absolutely exists.

As much as we rely on the sun for sustenance and growth, its intense UV rays can cause no small amount of damage if left unchecked. From the obvious aggravations, like sunburn, to the premature aging of your skin and the far too common melanoma, or skin cancer, the dangers of UV rays are an invisible force to be reckoned with. And while individuals with pale skin and lighter hair should be particularly careful outdoors, people of all skin colors and complexions are at risk from UV rays.

Take the following four precautions to stay safe this summer.

  1. Follow the sun’s schedule: The sun’s rays are at their most intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Avoid prolonged exposure during these times. Aim for early morning or mid-afternoon excursions instead.
  2. Use sunscreen liberally: Broad-spectrum products protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Opt for one with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every couple of hours (particularly if you are swimming and/or sweating. No sunscreen is 100 percent waterproof – and manufacturers are prohibited from marketing them as such). Read labels and follow directions closely for proper usage and be sure to ask your doctor about applications for infants.
  3. Don’t be fooled. Even on the cloudiest summer days, the sun is still shining through the atmosphere. While it may not feel like it, your body, if exposed, is still being subjected to UV rays (up to 80 percent, according to some experts). When not swimming, seek shaded areas and wear comfortable, breathable clothing to protect your skin from exposure.
  4. Protect those peepers: The sun’s UV rays are easily reflected off of water and sand, increasing your risk for eye damage. Sunglasses DO help but be sure to choose a pair that are rated UV400 (or offers 100% UV protection). NOTE: Dark tinted glasses do not necessarily equate to UV protection, nor do pricier sunglasses. So be sure to read labels closely before buying and consult your eye doctor if still uncertain.

With the proper precautions, you can continue to have fun in the sun this summer, while significantly reducing your risk for various skin cancers; leathery, wrinkled, and sun-spotted skin; and, of course, that dreaded and debilitating summer aggravation – sunburn. And remember: the doctors at Quality First Urgent Care are on call to help, should you have concerns about burns or sun-related injuries this summer.