5 Ways to Avoid Sunburn While on the Water

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If you’ve ever been out on the water during the summer – whether the lake, ocean, or swimming pool – you know just how hot it can get. And if you aren’t careful, you can get burned in the blink of an eye. But you don’t have to return to land looking like a cherry popsicle. With the right habits, you can enjoy your time on the water without getting fried.

5 Tips for Avoiding Sunburn

A tan is the perfect way to kick off the summer. A sunburn? Not so much. Stay safe and avoid getting burned with the following helpful tips.

1. Choose the Right Sunscreen

Most people seriously misunderstand sunscreen. Putting on SPF 100 in the morning and then staying on the boat for six hours isn’t going to do you much good. In fact, SPF isn’t all that reliable. SPF only blocks UVB rays, which cause sunburn, but not UVA rays, which are linked to deep skin damage.

It’s also worth noting that SPF 15 blocks roughly 94 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, and SPF 45 blocks approximately 98 percent. And higher rated SPF sunscreens still need to be reapplied every couple of hours.

2. Pay Attention to Sunscreen Application

Spray sunscreen is convenient. You can quickly apply it and don’t have to get your hands messy. Unfortunately, spray-on sunscreen doesn’t always work well. It tends to get caught in the wind, goes on splotchy, and is often inhaled. Stick with the lotion and reapply regularly.

3. Seek Out Shade

It doesn’t matter how much sunscreen you have on, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight isn’t good. It’s important that you seek out shade as much as possible. If you’re on land (by a pool perhaps), going indoors for a break can provide you with some instant relief. If you own a boat and spend most of your time out on the water, installing a good boat top with maximum coverage is smart. Wholesale Marine has a pretty good guide on the differences between Bimini tops, T-Tops, and umbrellas. Check it out so you can better understand what you need.

4. Cover Up

Applying sunscreen and frequently seeking out shade are good first steps, but you can take even more preventative measures. For one, who says you have to strip down to a bathing suit the entire day? Covering up your arms, legs, and torso with light clothing can help protect your skin even more from harmful UV rays. Try to wear a long sleeve shirt for at least 20 minutes out of every hour you’re directly exposed to the sun.

5. Stay Hydrated

If you do find yourself getting sunburned, it’s important that you jump into response mode as soon as possible. Bad sunburns cause a process that’s known as vasodilation, where blood vessels become dilated and water is sucked out of the skin. This often leads to fatigue and dehydration. Sip on some water as soon as possible to stay hydrated and healthy.

Sunburn: More Than Uncomfortable

Most people hate sunburns because of the itchy, burning sensation they cause for a few days. But a sunburn is more than an uncomfortable inconvenience. It can actually lead to a number of short-term and long-term health problems.

For starters, sunburns increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Sun damage also frequently produces age spots, wrinkles, sagging, uneven pigmentation, and a darkening of the facial skin. Immediate side effects include dehydration, second-degree burns, blistering, and infection.

While the only way to avoid getting a sunburn completely is to stay inside, you can greatly reduce your risk by implementing the tips outlined in this article.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, always revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance producer for USA Today, and a contributor at Technorati. She lives in Utah with her 2 kids and husband. Melissa Thompson can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter @melthompson88. Please follow and friend her on either site.