The month of June brings with it picnics, trips to the beach, the park, and a long list of summer fun. The summer sun is meant to be enjoyed but it can be a dangerous threat especially for senior citizens.
Times have changed when it comes to people’s thinking about the sun. That deep, dark tan is no longer viewed as a good thing. Plus, there are plenty of misconceptions about the summer sun. So taking the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we compiled this list of sun safety myths and senior sun safety tips.
Sun Myth #1: Seniors need constant sun to supply vitamin D.
Seniors only need about 15 minutes or less of sun exposure two to three times a week on their faces and hands for their bodies to produce an adequate supply of Vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be found in foods and in multivitamins. Seniors should always wear sunscreen, a hat and light clothing that cover their skin when they are in the sun.
Sun Myth #2: Seniors only need to apply sunscreen once a day
Sunscreen needs time to work. Seniors should apply it about an hour before going out into the sun and reapply about every two hours. They should reapply more frequently if they are swimming. They should use a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause tanning and wrinkling while UVB rays cause sunburn, aging, wrinkling and skin cancer. Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15. Use SPF 30 or higher if you have a history of skin cancer or have fair skin. The risk for cancer increases as you get older. Seniors should especially pay attention to moles and other skin abnormalities.
Sun Myth #3: Seniors only need sunscreen at the pool or beach
Seniors should wear sunscreen everywhere if they go outside longer than 15 minutes. Seniors need to exercise, but to avoid too much sun they can walk in malls, casinos, or museums.
Sun Myth #4: The sun isn’t a problem on cloudy days.
The sun doesn’t feel as hot when it’s cloudy but the UVA and UVB rays that tan and burn your skin are still shining down and being absorbed. Seniors’ skin is more sensitive. The sun’s rays are more intense in the summer so even on a cloudy day seniors should still wear sunscreen and sun protection.
Sun Myth #5: There’s nothing seniors can do if they get sunburn
The bad news is that’s partially true. The CDC recommends aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain, headache and fever. When seniors are exposed to too much sun they’re at severe risk for dehydration. They should drink six to eight glasses of water a day and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. They can also take a cool bath and use an aloe cream to moisturize skin.
Sun Myth #6: Sunburn is the only sun problem seniors should worry about
The sun can also hurt your eyes. The UV rays can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and skin cancer around the eyes. Seniors should always wear sunglasses. Choose brown, gray or green lenses and the darker and larger the lens the better. Seniors should choose glasses that wrap around their eyes and block a high percentage of UV rays.