Avoid Sun-Related Health Problems
Ocean Care Center experts provide valuable advice for summer sun safety.A trip to the beach should be fun, not an event that results in a visit to a medical professional. Unfortunately, for some beach-goers and outdoor enthusiasts, that's just what can happen if you're not careful out in the sun.
Many people don't fully understand just how important it is to protect their skin. Wearing sunscreen and taking other precautions helps protect against sunburns and skin damage and can keep your summer fun, safe, and healthy.
According to Bradley Pulver, M.D., medical director of Ocean Care Center in Point Pleasant, this satellite emergency department of Ocean Medical Center sees an increase in cases of severe sunburn and heatstroke during the summer months. "A day at the beach can become serious if you don't take proper precautions," advises Dr. Pulver. "Many of the heat-related problems that we treat have to do with overexposure to the sun."
Dr. Pulver's recommendation to pay special attention to sun exposure comes on the heels of new recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. New sunscreen labels will be expanded to include a marking to show how well the product protects users against cancer-causing ultraviolet A (UVA) light. Sunscreen labels are already required to carry a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) level that informs users how well the product protects against UVB light, which primarily causes sunburn. The new labeling is expected to be implemented by next summer.
In the mean time, Dr. Pulver recommends the following tips to keep safe and healthy.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Someone with a history of skin cancer may need a higher SPF. The level of SPF indicates the length of time you will be protected from UVB rays, compared to the time it would take for you to sunburn without protection. So if your skin would normally redden in 20 minutes, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will protect you 15 times longer, or for 5 hours.
- Look for a product that provides both UVA and UVB protection. Sunscreens should include at least one of the following ingredients: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789 or 1789).
- Wear sunscreen all year long. Harmful rays are present all year, even on cloudy or snowy days.
- Apply the lotion to all areas of the skin, including ears and eyelids.
- Apply sunscreen liberally at least 30 minutes before your exposure to the sun. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming.
Other Tips for Protection
- Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when exposure to ultraviolet light is highest.
- The sun's rays can penetrate through clothing and cause damage. Wearing hats, cover-ups, or other clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) ratings are also helpful--especially for people who have had skin cancer.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
- Eyes are also in danger of the sun's rays. Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
- If working outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
- When weather is particularly hot or humid, avoid heavy exercise or physical activity.
- Increase your fluid intake.
- Avoid becoming overheated, especially if you're elderly, overweight or taking a medication that affects your body's heat regulation.
- Let your car cool down before you get inside.
About Ocean Care Center
Ocean Care Center is a satellite emergency department in Point Pleasant, NJ, part of Ocean Medical Center. The center treats minor emergencies such as broken bones, sprains, cuts requiring stitches, burns, and stomach ailments. Ocean Care Center was New Jersey's first satellite emergency department, and is outfitted with eight patient bays, three exam rooms, and a private family consultation room. Both walk-in and ambulance-transported patients are accepted. Additionally, laboratory services, diagnostic imaging for x-ray and CT, and hospital pre-registration and pre-admission testing are available at the Ocean Care Center. To learn more about Ocean Care Center, call 732-295-6377 or visit www.OceanMedicalCenter.com for a virtual tour.