Maybe you are one of the lucky people who’ve never experienced a serious sunburn or any sun-related skin problem. But like so many things in life, risk factors change as we grow older. With aging often comes more delicate skin, putting seniors at higher risk for skin sensitivity and sun damage.
Along with the obvious risk factors for skin damage come hidden dangers that increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Medication side effects and chronic health conditions are common culprits. These changes are often overlooked by older adults, especially those who have always spent time outdoors without sunscreen.
In recognition of National UV Safety Month, we share five tips to protect yourself from the summer sun’s UV rays.
Five UV Safety Tips for Older Adults
1. Protect your skin with sunscreen.
Sunscreen is one of the best methods of protecting your skin from sun damage. If you’ve ever wondered how to tell products apart, you aren’t alone. With so many options, it can be confusing.
Here’s what you need to know to purchase and use a quality sunscreen:
- Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection. That means you are protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Select a product with an SPF of at least 30. It will protect you from 93 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.
- Don’t skimp when applying sunscreen. Thick layers are best.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or sooner if you are swimming or sweating heavily.
2. Wear a hat with a wide brim.
While many people take steps to protect their shoulders, arms, and legs from the sun, it’s easy to overlook your scalp and the back of your ears and neck. These delicate areas are prone to sunburn. For those with thin hair, sunburn on the scalp can be especially painful.
Investing in a hat with a wide brim is another way to protect yourself. They shield your scalp, neck, and face. While straw hats can be stylish, be careful of ones with loosely weaved straw. They can let in too much sun.
3. Invest in quality sunglasses.
Like the rest of your body, your eyes can get sunburned, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sun exposure also increases your risk for cataracts. It’s important to invest in a pair or two of quality sunglasses.
Check the label on the sunglasses to make sure the lenses block both UVA and UVB rays.
4. Wear protective clothing.
A loose-fitting, long-sleeved top and long pants can offer sun protection. Some even have SPF woven into the fabric. While it might not seem like it, they can also keep you cool on hot days.
Don’t forget about the tops of your feet, too. If you aren’t wearing shoes that cover them, layer on the sunscreen.
5. Protect your lips.
This is probably one of the most overlooked steps for summer sun protection: applying SPF to the lips. A good quality lip balm with SPF protection is less irritating than sunblock made for the skin. Again, choose one with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Skin Cancer Awareness
Along with the five tips outlined above, it’s important to learn more about skin cancer and its risk factors. It’s the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, impacting one in five adults. You can learn more in this article.
If you have questions about senior living or would like to schedule a private tour of a Sunrise community near you, please contact us at 888-434-4648.