By: Chris Harmon, MD
Outdoor activities are frequently things that people enjoy doing. We do not advise against them. However, there are precautions that you can take that will protect you, and still allow you to continue to do those things you enjoy.
Plan your activities in the early morning hours before 10:00 a.m. or in the late afternoon, beyond 3:00 p.m. This will help avoid the sun's most intense radiation, which occurs between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Wear a hat and remember that a hat with a 6-inch brim only provides equivalent sun protection to an SPF #8 sunscreen. There are new fabrics for protective clothing that provide complete sun block. They are designed to be loose fitting, cool, and comfortable.
In addition to a hat and protective clothing, we strongly recommend the usage of sunscreens on a daily basis. When choosing a sunscreen, it is important to look for ingredients that provide broad-spectrum coverage against both UVA and UVB radiation. The active ingredients micronized zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Helioplex or Parsol 1789 (avobenzene) provide broad-spectrum ultraviolet coverage for both UVB and UVA rays.
For normal daily activities such as going to and from work or school, we recommend the use of a daily moisturizer with a sun block. This will provide protection against incidental ultraviolet radiation that one encounters to and from the car, as well as traveling in the car.
For outdoor activities such as swimming, running, or golfing, we advise using a waterproof sun block. For prolonged sun exposure, all sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours. Although no sunscreens are truly and completely waterproof, we do recommend sunscreens that have the word “waterproof” on the package label when undergoing swimming and other water sport activities.
It is important to remember that sun damage is cumulative, so even short amounts of sun exposure will add up. Don’t forget to protect your eyes, ears and lips. So, enjoy the sun and the outdoors, but use common sense, a sunscreen, and protective clothing when appropriate.