Summertime usually means plenty of outdoor fun, whether it’s family picnics, a poolside vacation, or hours in the garden. Longer, sunnier days also call for appropriate sun protection, usually in the form of sunscreen.
Here are 6 sunscreen safety basics seniors need to know to guard their skin this summer.
Sunscreen Safety and Older Adults
1. Aging is no excuse to skip sunscreen.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than half of deaths connected to skin cancer occur in individuals over the age of 65. Because the risk of developing or dying from skin cancer rises every year, people of all ages should protect themselves from sun damage.
2. When in doubt, use sunscreen.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can take only 15 minutes to damage skin. Apply sunscreen even if you aren’t outside very long. Some UV rays can penetrate glass, so you may want to use sunscreen indoors if you will be near large, open windows. Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
3. Choose SPF 30 or higher.
A sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) determines how well it can absorb and reflect the sun’s rays. However, a higher SPF does not mean you can spend more time in the sun. For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen absorbs 97% of the sun’s burning rays, but an SPF 50 is only a little better, absorbing 98%.
4. Protect from both UVA and UVB.
The sun emits two kinds of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays, which make up about 95% of UV radiation on earth, can penetrate the lower levels of the skin. UVB rays make up a smaller percentage of UV rays, but they are more damaging and cause most sunburns.
Make sure that your sunscreen will protect you from both. Look for products that say “broad-spectrum protection.” Throw out any sunscreen that is expired or that you’ve had for more than a couple years.
5. The form of sunscreen doesn’t matter.
The age, water resistance, and SPF of your sunscreen are important, but the type of sunscreen is not. All other things being equal, research has found little difference between sunscreen sticks, sprays, gels, or creams.
Choose the type that is easiest for you to wear. Sticks are good for applying to small or hard-to-reach areas, or for carrying around with you. Sprays and creams are better for more surface area, such as arms and legs. Gels tend to be better for areas with hair, such as the scalp.
6. There is a right way to apply sunscreen.
Apply sunscreen thickly; aim for too much, not too little. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your back, hands, neck, ears, and any exposed scalp.
Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. If you swim or sweat a lot, or towel yourself off, you may need to reapply it more often.
Enriching Activities for All Seniors
At Randall Residences, we believe in providing a variety of activities to help each resident live their best life. Come experience our compassionate service and care by scheduling a private tour. Call the Randall Residence nearest you to learn more.