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Sleeping in the sun: Sunscreens and your health

Generally speaking, no matter how romantic it sounds, you want to avoid sleeping in the sun. When it comes to sleeping, the sun is not your friend, especially during the summer. In a typical scenario, if you sleep in the sun, you’ll get sunburned and end up having an even harder time resting for the next several nights. If only for the sake of your health, it is best to avoid prolonged direct exposure to sunlight during the summer season. If and when you have to stay out in the sun — such as during an outdoor party, a day at the beach or while gardening — you’ll need to protect yourself.

desert sun

In this article, we’ll take a look at a recent study that identified major failures in the way a majority of people protect themselves from the sun, and we’ll throw in a few tricks for you to avoid getting burned.

Everyone should apply sunscreen every time they go outside.

A new study, conducted by dermatologists and just recently (as of May 2017) published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that nearly two-thirds of people do not use protection such as clothing, hats, and sunscreens, correctly. After dispensing free sunscreen to beachgoers for 93 consecutive hours and analyzing the subjects’ behavior, the authors of the study concluded the following:

  • Only one-third of the people observed applied sunscreen to all exposed body parts
  • Less than 40% of the people were wearing proper protective clothing
  • In general, women were more likely to use sunscreen than their male counterparts

sunscreen spray

As Ingrid Polcari, one of the researchers puts it: “To get the best possible sun protection, it’s important to wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, not just your face and arms. Everyone should use sunscreen every time they go outside. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can reach your skin.”

The sun poses serious threats to humans. Among these threats is skin cancer. In general, men over 50 are significantly more likely to develop melanoma cancer than women. Yet, according to this particular research, men are also less liable to use proper protection. The problem is compounded by the fact that a majority of people do not use sunscreens correctly and only use it on the most obviously exposed parts of their anatomy. While exposure to UV is not the only cause of skin cancer, proper protection from it remains the most easily accessible way to mitigate the risks of contracting the disease.

cat in the sun

Select a sunscreen product that has a minimum of SPF 30, that has “broad spectrum” coverage (both UVA and UVB) and that is water resistant. Additionally, people with sensitive skins should select a product that has either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Select a product that fits your needs, then make sure that you “apply it on all exposed skin before heading outside.”

For a more entertaining presentation of the use of sunscreens, you can watch this video. For an in-depth look at the many ways, you can — and should — protect yourself and your loved ones, head over to SpotSkinCancer.org, the official domain of the American Academy of Dermatology.


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