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|Summer Travel Health Tips|
|Monday, 30 June 2008|
Fun in the summer sun is delightful, but insure good summer travel health with an effective sunscreen. Ultraviolet rays cause more than just sunburn – unprotected exposure leads to early aging, and puts you at risk for skin cancer. So start early with smart summer skin health, by wearing protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts are good, and make sure to pack a wide-brimmed hat), buy sunglasses with UV protection, and sit in the shade whenever you can.
It’s probably pointless to advise that you avoid sunbathing, particularly if you’re headed to a sunny island or off on a Mexico cruise. But remember that the peak hours for sun exposure, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., are the hardest on your skin. Using a good sunscreen is smart all year ‘round, but absolutely vital during the summer.
The effectiveness of sunscreen is measured by their SPF number – the “sun protection factor.” The higher the number, the greater the protection. An SPF 15 sunscreen supposedly allows for as much as 15 times the exposure to the sun as with no sunscreen at all, but sweating, swimming and your own sensitivity level will lower that protection. If you have very, very fair skin, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 20 to 30. A “water-resistant” sunscreen will last a bit longer, offering protection for up to 40 minutes. Re-applying sunscreen often is your best protection.
Babies under six months shouldn’t be slathered with sunscreen, however, although some dermatologists say that using zinc oxide-based products (which create a barrier) on older infants is fine. For children over two years old, there are sunscreens on the market designed specially for kids. The best protection, though, is to simply keep infants and small children out of the sun entirely – something that’s not easy to do on vacation!
For best results, you should apply sunscreen to all uncovered parts of your body 15 to 30 minutes before exposure. About an ounce will be enough for your entire body, using about a half teaspoon on your head and neck, and on each arm, and then a heaping teaspoon on the front of your body, on your back, and on each of your legs.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours while you’re in the sun – more often if you’re swimming or sweating. If you do get a sunburn, you’ll get relief from a cold compress or by soaking in a cool (not cold) bath. Severe sunburns can be very dangerous, however, especially for small children – make sure kids drink a lot of water when exposed to the sun, and keep an eye on them for signs of headaches or dehydration.
And don’t forget that you don’t have to lay in the sun to get a tan. There are a lot of great self-tanners on the market now that give the appearance of a light tan without the orange effect of the old products. Just remember that these tanners don’t provide any protection from the sun – even if you look tan, you’re still pale underneath, and you’ll burn easily. So get a good sunscreen, and use it often!
|Last Updated ( Monday, 30 June 2008 )|
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