Sports & Fitness

Soaking up Sunshine – the Right Way

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Here are some guidelines to follow, provided by Emory Eastside Medical Center.

The best way to avoid skin cancer is to stay out of the sun, which is practically impossible for most of us. Therefore, lower your risk of sunburn and skin cancer by avoiding the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During this time 80 percent of the sun”s UV rays shine down. Surfaces such as water, sand, concrete and white-painted areas should also be avoided as they reflect the sun. And don”t be fooled into thinking that on cloudy or hazy days you won”t get burned. On the contrary, you are more likely to get severely burned because only the most intense UV rays make it through the clouds. You may not know this either, but the risk of sunburn is greater at the beginning of the summer because ultraviolet intensity depends on the sun”s angle, not heat or brightness.

And don”t think you can escape the effect of the sun by going artificial. Tanning salons are not a good alternative to the sun”s rays. Twenty to thirty minutes in a tanning bed can be as dangerous as a day in the sun.

Always use a sunscreen along with other protective measures. To judge the level of SPF that you need, try this formula. Multiply the SPF number by the amount of time it takes you to burn, and the answer will tell you how long you can stay in the sun and be protected. For example: SPF 30 times 5 minutes to burn = 150 minutes in the sun. Your age also may determine the amount of SPF you will need. Babies and young children should be well covered and only use sunscreen if necessary because the long term chemical effects of sunscreen are still not known. Older children and adults should use SPFs of 15 and over. Those who burn easily or run the risk of skin cancer should use at least an SPF of 30.

Sunscreen takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes to go into affect, so be sure to put it on before you go into the sun and reapply every two hours. Although you may not swim, a waterproof sunscreen is still advisable because they last longer than a water-resistant sunscreen.

For more information on preventing sunburn and skin cancer, contact Emory Eastside Medical Center at 770-979-0200 or visit