Baseball games, afternoons at the pool, gardening, camping and fishing at the lake and other outdoor activities are sure signs of summer.
For many who participate in these activities, the red glow of sunburn is also a marker of the season.
Every year, people expose their skin to the damaging rays of the sun. Not only is it painful but it can also lead to serious health issues like skin cancer, said Pratt County Public Health Director Deb McGraw.
It doesn't take very long for skin damage to show up. In as little as 15 minutes to 20 minutes, the skin can get sun damaged. depending on the amount of UV rays.
Some people are more susceptible to sunburn than others. Those with red hair, freckles, blond hair and blue eyes are easily burned and need to be careful when participating in outdoor activities, McGraw said.
To help cut down on the painful and damaging sunrays, a good sunscreen will protect exposed skin. The SPF rating on sunscreen provides a guide for the amount of protection. A rating of SPF 30 is the suggested level for good protection. The higher the rating the better the sunscreen will block out the sun's rays. A rating of SPF 50 is very strong.
For best effectiveness, sunscreen should be applied about 30 minutes before going outside. This gives the lotion time to absorb into the skin for maximum effectiveness.
To maintain continual protection, sunscreen be applied diligently everyday even if a person is not going to go out everyday. Repeating the application every day creates a good habit that will eventually keep out the sun's rays.
Typically, sunscreen will last about two hours. To apply, use about a quarter size amount to cover the face.
Other surfaces like the back, chest, arms and legs will require more lotion. For a long day at the beach, a quarter of an eight-ounce bottle per person is suggested. The plastic cups on medicine bottles can hold an ounce of lotion.
When swimming, toweling off and sweating cause the sunscreen to wear off quickly. If someone is getting out of the pool for a while, sunscreen should be applied immediately.
Besides protecting the skin from sunburn and potential skin cancers, sunscreen will also reduce the amount of wrinkling that accompanies sun exposure, McGraw said.
Besides sunscreen, lightweight clothing such as long sleeve shirts and long pants are also suggested to guard against the damaging sun's rays. A wide brimmed hat and an umbrella are also choices for sun protection.
Sunglasses with a UV rating can provide vital protection for the eyes. Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to cataracts.
Page 2 of 2 - Drinking lots of water is also beneficial to help ease the effects of sun burn. Sitting in the shade will help prevent overexposure and over heating.
Children's skin is especially vulnerable to sun burn. Babies from birth to six months should not be exposed to the sun at all, McGraw said. Children's skin is fragile so they very vulnerable to sunburn.
Even when the sun is not shining, the body can sunburn. On totally cloudy days, about 40 percent of the sun's UV rays still reach the ground.
"On cloudy days, people think they are not as apt to get sunburned but it's actually a worse time to burn," McGraw said. "People are just as likely to burn with clouds as they would without clouds."