The sunny, warm weather has many of us out and about already this summer – but it’s important not to let your guard down as you’re enjoying your summertime adventures. Too much sun could have consequences, and seemingly simple, fun activities like swimming could be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared.
In terms of water-related injuries or accidents, there’s an increased risk of those happening anytime you’re near water, including your next boating, fishing or swimming trip. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce those risks.
For instance, wearing a life jacket and knowing how to swim are simple but key parts of having a safe experience in the water. It’s also a good idea to learn CPR (or refresh yourself on the steps if it’s been a while). Finally, being aware of your surroundings – including large rocks and rapids and whether you’re in a shallow or deep area – could help ensure a safe time as you’re cooling off from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Speaking of which, it’s important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. And it’s not just during the sunny days that you should worry about protecting your skin – those UV rays can cause damage even on cloudy days.
Therefore, it’s recommended to limit your exposure to direct sunlight and there are a couple easy ways to do that. The CDC suggests avoiding outdoor time during the hottest times of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), wearing sunglasses and a large hat, staying hydrated and wearing sunscreen.
And speaking of sunscreen – it’s a great idea to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 15 SPF or higher. It’s also recommended to reapply it often, especially if you’re out swimming or are sweating a lot.
Bottom line, heat stress shouldn’t be taken lightly as it could lead to heat stroke, skin cancer, sunburns, dehydration and more. Something many adults may not know is that overexposure to the sun may also cause photosensitivity. This could be dangerous for folks who take certain medications that contain ingredients that negatively react with sunlight.
That negative reaction causes a chemical change in the skin, making the individual very sensitive to sunlight. Some of those medications including antihistamines, antifungals, antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
It’s important to work with your health care provider to better understand how your medication might interact with sunlight, since not everyone taking those mediations will have a reaction.
As you’re enjoying your sunshine this year, keep these tips in mind to ensure you have a safe, healthy summer. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about your medications and keeping your family safe this year.
Carrie Borengasser is a physician assistant and one of the advanced practice clinician directors for MedExpress Urgent Care in Conway.