Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Jun 2, 2020

Take a sun-safe selfie

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor




If you’re sun-safe, tell the world with a photo — and a hashtag. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsors a social-media outreach called #sunsafeselfie. Show off your wide-brimmed hats, your long-sleeved beach shirts, or your skin with a fresh coat of sunscreen. The idea is to use the power and reach of social media to remind people to practice UV protection while in the sun.

To be sun-safe and protect your skin from harmful UV radiation, do the following:

  • Avoid midday sun — For many people in North America, the sun’s rays are strongest between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schedule outdoor activities for other times of day, even in winter or when the sky is cloudy.
  • Wear sunscreen year-round — Sunscreens don’t filter out all the harmful UV radiation, but they play a major role in an overall sun protection program. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen — meaning it protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays — with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating. Use a generous amount of sunscreen — about the amount to fill a shot glass — on all exposed skin, including your lips, the tips of your ears, and the backs of your hands and neck.
  • Wear protective clothing — Sunscreens don’t provide complete protection from UV rays, so wear dark, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and wear a broad-brimmed hat. Some companies also sell photoprotective clothing. Don’t forget sunglasses. Look for those that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications — Some common prescription and nonprescription drugs can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, especially hydrochlorothiazide, a class of drugs used very commonly to high blood pressure and fluid retention (edema) in people with heart disease. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any drugs you take. If they do increase sensitivity to sunlight, take extra care to protect your skin.

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