Sun safety: don’t feel the burn

By Drum Digital
15 December 2016

Are you headed to the beach this festive season? Do you plan on spending your days having fun in the sun? Here are some tips to help you keep your skin protected and safe from harm.

By Salome Tsoka

The South African climate is known for being unpredictable and can get extremely hot, with temperatures reaching the high 40s in some regions.

“People who are being active, including swimming and spending time at the beach, should stay hydrated as often as possible. Drinking approximately 1 to 3 litres of water a day will keep you cool and properly hydrated,” ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring says.

He warns that people who expose their skin to the sun’s rays for long periods could be increasing their risk of developing skin cancer. “To reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, one should seek the shade and avoid being outdoors between 10 am and 4 pm if possible,” he recommends.

“Protect your skin by using long-sleeved tops or shirts, long pants and skirts, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Remember that dark colours provide more protection than light colours.

“Use an approved sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Use about a palm-full and use it liberally on the head, arms, neck and legs. Reapply sunscreen every two hours to maintain protection, more often if you swim or sweat. Sunscreen should be used every day.”

“Use lip balm of SPF 20 or higher,” he adds.

The South African Weather Service says that it is difficult to predict when the next heat wave will occur, as this depends on the country’s summer weather patterns. However, the service warns that extra caution needs to be exercised with babies less than six months old and the elderly, as they are more vulnerable to dehydration and heatstroke.

Russel reiterates sun screen is vital for all ages and all skin types: “Even if you are not spending a prolonged time in the sun, sun screen should still be applied.”

“The South African climate is known to be a hot one. Because of this, a high SPF sunscreen should be used,” he says.

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