How to protect yourself from the sun

Proper protection of your eyes and skin is important throughout the year, but some people only think of it during the summer, when the sun blazes throughout the day. Seniors especially should be sure to wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen, because not only can the the sun can cause damage to the entire body, but it could lead to skin cancer around the eyes, macular degeneration and cataracts.

The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests people wear a sunscreen with an SPF level of 15 or higher whenever they’re outside. While seniors may think they’re safe if they’re only taking the dog for a quick walk or running errands in their car, the sun will still find them and could cause damage that adds up over time.

They also should reapply sunscreen at least once every two hours, but more often if they’re doing activities that cause them to get sweaty or wet. Often-missed parts of the body that seniors should be sure to remember to cover include:

  • Lips
  • Ears
  • Eye area
  • Neck
  • Scalp – especially if hair is thinning
  • Hands
  • Feet

Prevent burns

Seniors should never seek out suntans, because in just a matter of minutes, a bronze tan can turn into a painful, red burn. The SCF reports that a person’s risk of melanoma doubles after he or she has suffered five or more sunburns. The organization conducted a poll that found that 42 percent of respondents get at least one sunburn a year.

Protection goes beyond sunscreen

The application of sunscreen is great for senior wellness, but there are other steps they can take to protect their skin, such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants in dark colors like deep blue and black, according to the SCF. Broad-brimmed hats also are key and provide great protection to the face, neck, ears and scalp. Other hats, such as baseball caps, leave the ears and neck uncovered, so seniors who wear those should be sure to apply sunscreen.

Eyes on protection

The Mayo Clinic reported that seniors who want to protect their eyes should obtain sunglasses that have UB protection of 99 to 100 percent. The darker the sunglass lenses, the better, but seniors shouldn’t stop there: They also may want to opt for wraparound glasses or close-fitting models that protect their eyes from every angle.

There are a number of types of lenses that are beneficial for seniors, including: blue-blocking, polarized, photochromic, polycarbonate, mirror-coated and gradient.

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