Woman on the Beach

Enjoying the Outdoors

Tips for Outdoor activities

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing to shield skin
  • Use broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPH 15 to protect exposed skin
  • Sunscreen works best when used with shade or clothes, and it must be re-applied every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off

There are many benefits to sunlight and being outdoors such as preventing the development of obesity and in limited quantities, it helps us with vitamin D production. Unlike plants, humans do not need an excessive amount of sunlight. Direct contact with the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin regardless of skin tone in as little as 15 mins and can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Risk of skin damage can be reduced significantly with the help of daily application of sunscreen and reducing exposure through protective clothing, hat, and sunglasses.

Applying Sunscreen

Sunscreens contain chemicals that protect that skin from UV rays by absorbing, reflecting, and scattering sunlight. Broad spectrum sunscreen with at least sun protector factor (SPF) of 15 should be applied generously on all parts of exposed skin before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. SPFs are assigned to number the rates of effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Fast Fact: Some cosmetics such as makeup and lip balms have sun protection. Do not use alone if they do not have at least SPF 15.

Protective Clothing and Accessories

Long-sleeved shirts, pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Additional sunscreen protection may be necessary as a typical T-Shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15.

Hats with a brim all the way around that shade the face, ears and the back of neck will provide the most protection. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through.

Sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays protect your eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays on the sides as well.


Sunburn is a sign of skin damage from spending too much time outdoors without sunscreen protection. Overexposure of sun can lead to premature wrinkling, aging of the skin, age spots and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Sunburn varies in severity and there is no quick cure, but symptoms can be treated. Further exposure to sunlight should be avoided until the burn has been resolved.

Pain: Aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin/Advil (Ibuprofen) can be used to relieve pain, headache and fever. Cool baths or cool wet cloths on burned area may also provide some comfort.

Hydrocortisone cream 1%, topical moisturizing cream or aloe can be helpful for additional symptomatic relief of burning sensation.

Blistering: Lightly cover the area with gauze or bandage. Avoid breaking the skin of blisters as it will put you at risk for infection. Hydrocortisone cream or antiseptic ointment may be applied to dried fragments when blister breaks.

Seek medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Severe sunburns covering more than 15% of the body
  • Dehydration
  • High fever (>101°F)
  • Extreme pain that persists for longer than 48 hours

Fast Fact: In addition to skin, eyes can get burned from sun exposure. Sunburned eyes can become gritty, red, dry and painful. Long term exposure of eyes to sunlight may cause pterydium (tissue growth that leads to blindness), cataracts, and macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness).

  • Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm

  • https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/sunexposure/sunburn.html