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FIRST-PERSON: Sunscreen & sunglasses wise in summertime & year-round

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises,” the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 1:5.

The sun is warm and the extended length of daylight calls you to be outside to work in the yard, play a sport or relax on a beach with a good book.

Sunlight has both benefits and dangers, however. Sunlight helps the body make vitamin D. The warmth from the sun refreshes and makes us feel good. Yet the sun carries the threat of skin damage and, potentially, skin cancer after years of damage.

To receive the benefits of the sun without the impending damage to your skin, here are some tips that will be helpful.

1) Stay out of the sun for long periods of time during the peak hours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. These are the hours when the sun’s rays are most direct and can cause the most skin damage. If you must be outside, stay in the shade as much as possible. But, for the most protection, stay indoors.

2) When outside, cover yourself with light, loose-fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat.

3) Protect your eyes with a good pair of sunglasses with UV (ultraviolet) ray protection. Your eyes can burn as easily as your skin if left unprotected. Be aware that reflection of the sun off water is very damaging to the eyes.

4) Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 on all exposed skin — face, hands, feet, neck and ears. This should be done to prevent sun damage even in the spring, fall and winter. If you will be out for long periods of time in the direct sun, use SPF 30 for more protection and reapply every three to four hours or more often if you are in water or sweating heavily.

5) Protect children with sunscreen and shaded areas for play. Keep babies younger than six months old out of the sun. Sunburns start most skin cancers in childhood. Children have delicate skin that must be protected from sun damage.

6) Know your skin type to judge the level of sun exposure you can handle. If you are fair-skinned with red or blond hair and light eyes, you are most susceptible to skin damage and possibly skin cancer. The darker your skin, hair and eyes, the lower your risk of skin cancer. Darker skin tones have a higher level of natural protectors. However, precautions should still be taken to avoid damage. If you have moles, your skin may be more susceptible to skin cancer as well. Report any suspicious dark spots to your doctor or dermatologist for examination and testing.

While God created the sun as the greatest light in the sky, we nevertheless should be diligent in using wise judgment when enjoying the outdoors this summer.
Polk is the health ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information on “Fit 4: A LifeWay Christian Wellness Plan,” go to www.fit4.com.

    About the Author

  • Branda Polk