Headed to the beach? Don’t forget to bring along plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s powerful rays.
It’s finally here — that beach weekend you’ve been planning. Whether you’ll spend your time sunbathing or playing in the water, there is no magical shortcut to sun protection.
“The keys are controlled sun exposure, physical barriers and sunscreen,” says David Peng, MD, MPH, chairman of the USC Department of Dermatology at Keck Medicine of USC. Here are five recommendations to stay safe in the sun.
1. Hydrate often
Stay hydrated. Your body needs 64 ounces of water daily to function properly. If you’re active in the heat, your body produces more sweat to regulate your body temperature and therefore needs more water. Packing frozen water bottles keeps your liquids cool and doubles as a cooler for snacks. Also remember that beer and sodas are diuretics and can cause dehydration.
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2. Reapply sunscreen
You know you should wear sunscreen, but even more important is that you reapply it throughout the day and after you get out of the water. The recommended standard by the American Academy of Dermatology is to reapply every two hours, including on your lips, and to apply more often after swimming or sweating.
Confused about SPF? Dermatologists recommend a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF, which will block 97% of the sun’s harmful UVB rays. For extra coolness, store your sunscreen in your cooler so that it feels refreshing when you reapply.
3. Wear a cover-up
Unfortunately, no sunscreen blocks all of the sun’s harmful rays, and salt and heat can take a toll on your skin. Wearing a cover-up and hat will help you avoid overexposure to the sun and keep you cool.
Just remember to choose a cover-up that actually blocks the sun, with a thicker fabric or built-in sun protection. If you don’t have a cover-up, use a towel to block the sun. And protective sunglasses are always a smart beach accessory.
4. Find the shade
You can be in the shade and still enjoy the beach. Bring a pop-up tent or umbrella so that your family, especially kids, have a place to escape from the sun. In addition to sun protection, shade helps reduce the chances of overheating.
5. Practice water safety
The ocean is unpredictable; you never know what types of marine life are in the water, so stay aware of your surroundings and follow these precautions:
- Find your lifeguard. If your beach has a lifeguard on duty, know where they are located. You might not think of it until you need one, so it’s best to look ahead.
- Know your flags. Different states have different colored flags to indicate beach conditions, from rip tides to the presence of dangerous sea life. If you aren’t sure what the flag colors mean, check with the lifeguard.
- Check the weather. It may sound silly, but it’s smart to know about pending storms and sea conditions. Avoid the beach if there’s lightning.
- If you don’t know how to swim, wear a life jacket. And never go in alone — always have a buddy at the beach.
by Heidi Tyline King
If you’re concerned about skin care, the Department of Dermatology at Keck Medicine of USC is recognized nationally for providing the highest quality of dermatology care. Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to learn more. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, book an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting dermatology.keckmedicine.org