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Pretty Weather Brings Sunburn Possibilities

Photo: My grandson shows off his canoeing skills on the lake complete with life jacket and covered with sunscreen.

The cool nights and early mornings that warm up into the 80’s during the day I find enjoyable.  This type of weather can push us outside into all kinds of outdoor activities and at the same time lull us into thinking about how beautiful the weather and forgetting about the potential for sunburn.


Fishing or otherwise playing in the water is pleasant and it is easy to forget the sun up there trying to dry up or bake everything unprotected, especially if there is a little cloud cover and by the time you notice you are turning pink it’s too late, and the damage is done.  The only thing that will help at that point is to break out the vinegar, Aloe Vera, or whatever other home remedy you have for sunburns.


On every sunscreen bottle there is the notation for SPF.  That is the Sun Protection Factor.  In language that I can understand it means one SPF is supposed to be the amount of time in minutes that it takes your unprotected skin to become lightly reddened or irritated from being exposed to the sun.  You can tell it is an exact science, for everyone will surly react exactly the same way to the sun.  I don’t have to tell you that is a lie, but there is needed a way to indicate what the product will do so this is a good a method as any.


In reality each person has a different SPF based on such items as skin type, amount of skin pigment (skin darkness), existing tan, and prior sun exposure.  The SPF number on the bottle indicates approximately how many times your normal SPF time is multiplied by correctly applying that product.


Theoretically if your unprotected personal SPF is 30 minutes and you choose an 8 SPF sunscreen, you would extend your time to reach the sensitivity to the sun as described above by 8 times.  That time is reached by multiplying your normal unprotected time by the SPF number on the sunscreen bottle, in this case 8.  However in reality you need a SPF of 30 or above, and apply it often like every two hours


I was also looking for a sunscreen that I can put on right after shaving and not set me on fire and nowadays there are many that I can slap right on my freshly shaven face with no burning.  On top of that, it works well to keep me from burning when I am outside doing normal everyday activities.  I still wear a hat because the hair is getting a little thin on top and I soon get uncomfortable if not covered.


Beside the SPF number on the sunscreen bottle label it is a good idea to look for the specific ultra violet radiation that is being blocked.  It is important that both UV-A and UV-B are both being blocked.  UV-A is the most constant in intensity throughout the year.  It is radiation that contributes to sunburns, wrinkles, and premature aging of the skin.


UV-B radiation is more intense the closer to the equator you get and is fairly strong in our area.  UV-B radiation is stronger than UV-A radiation, is the most common cause of sunburn as well as contributing to premature aging, wrinkles, and also contributes to skin cancer.


So it is time to put on the sunscreen.  This will allow you to better enjoy your outings by dodging the sunburn demon, and knowing that you will also be taking a step to help minimize your possibility of developing skin cancer in the years ahead.


Photography by Larry J. LeBlanc