Summers in Anderson can get hot, which is why it is essential to equip ourselves with strategies to thrive in the scorching heat. I reached out to Dr. Theresa Knoepp, MD, a dermatologist at Anderson Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center, to discuss the risks of sun exposure and the best ways to stay healthy and have fun in the sun this summer.
What are the Risks?
Dr. Knoepp estimates 90% of the skin problems she sees have been caused or contributed to by sun exposure. Too much sun can create many health issues, including dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat stroke, and skin cancers. It can also contribute to acne, hyperpigmentation, folliculitis, eczema flares, rosacea, and sun allergy. Some possible warning signs for these conditions can be lightheadedness, dizziness, excessive sweating, headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, or confusion.
Everyone should always try to be mindful of their health during the summer, although children under four years old, adults over 65, and people with certain preexisting health conditions are advised to be extra careful. Luckily, with a few easy safety tips, surviving and thriving in the summer heat can be a breeze!
Dehydration is one of the biggest risks during the summer, so drinking enough water –even if you may not feel thirsty– is one of the best ways to stay safe on a hot day. Drinks with high amounts of sugar, caffeine, or alcohol can dehydrate you more, but staying hydrated doesn’t have to be boring! For a bit of added fun, try infusing your waters with citrus slices to add an extra refreshing twist!
Hydration is just as important for your skin, Dr. Knoepp notes. Chlorinated pools and air conditioners can cool you off, but they can also dehydrate your skin, leaving it dry, irritated, and more prone to sunburn. Remembering to stay hydrated will lessen these risks, making you feel happier and healthier regardless of the heat!
Keep Your Cool
While you may be tempted to spend the whole summer outside in the sun, staying away from direct sun exposure can cool you off and keep you safe from overheating. Midday sun exposure (10 am-4 pm) tends to be the most dangerous and direct, so planning outdoor activities and exercise in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler can help you stay active and enjoy the weather with less of a risk of overheating.
If you decide to spend time outside when it is extra sunny, seeking shade from umbrellas, trees, or canopies can help block direct sunlight. Additionally, clothing plays a big part in regulating your body temperature; try dressing in loose, light-colored, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. If at any point you feel like you may be overheating, using cold compresses, misting fans, taking cool showers, or going inside can help lower your body temperature and keep you feeling safe and comfortable.
It can be hard to avoid direct sunlight while still enjoying the weather, so protecting yourself through clothing and sunscreen is essential. UV-blocking sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen can keep you safe from damaging UV rays.
Dr. Knoepp recommends sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and broad-spectrum UVA coverage. You should apply your sunscreen generously 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it every 2 hours or after swimming or excessive sweating. Sunscreen with UVA protection should be used even on cloudy days, as it will protect you from sunburns and skin aging.
While the harsh summer sun can be dangerous, you shouldn’t let it stop you from thriving! Wearing (and reapplying!) sun protection, hydrating, and seeking shade can help you stay mindful of your health this summer and all year round, whether you’re outside by the pool or staying inside where it’s cool!