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Striped umbrella at beach.

Here Comes The Sun

Summertime means sunshine and warm temperatures, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

Overdo the sun exposure, and you may wind up with a painful sunburn - and long-term skin damage that can lead to cancer. Likewise, too much heat can make you sick. In fact, heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, can be fatal.

But if you take a few precautions, you can stay safe from the sun- and still have fun.

Sun Safety Tips

To protect your skin from the damage of ultraviolet (UV) rays, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you:

  • Limit your sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and reapply it at least every two hours.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved shirt and pants, when possible.

Sun Safety for Newborns

Infants typically spend nine months in a dark, safe place - the womb. It should be no surprise, then, that their skin needs special protection from the sun after they're born.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), newborns should be kept out of direct and reflected sunlight (such as from sand or water) as much as possible until 6 months of age.

If you can't avoid the sun, the AAP advises you to:

  • Go out before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are weaker.
  • Dress your baby in a brimmed hat and clothing that covers the arms and legs.
  • Use sunscreen made especially for babies - with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher - on small areas of skin not protected by shade or clothing.

You should also protect your baby's skin even on foggy or cloudy days because harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are still present.

Fresh air and a change of scenery are good for you and your baby - as long as you're sun-safe.

Heat Safety Tips

When temperatures soar, try these suggestions for staying well from the American College of Emergency Physicians and other experts:

  • Drink enough fluids. Don't wait until you're thirsty to sip something cool. When it's hot, increase your fluid intake- but avoid alcohol, because it will actually cause you to lose more fluid.
  • Ventilate. Keep air moving around your body. If you're inside without an air conditioner, open windows and run a fan.
  • Get help. Seek medical help if you or someone else shows any of these signs of heat-related illness: severe, blistering sunburn; fever or chills; nausea or vomiting; or confusion.